Rotorua MP Todd McClay was ordered to leave Parliament today by Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard after he quizzed the Health Minister about intensive care unit beds in the Lakes District Health Board.
The Rotorua Daily Post today reported the DHB had six ICU beds, of which four were resourced, which refers to staffing. There are also six coronary care unit beds, four of them resourced.
The DHB had 16 ventilators and 14 were resourced.
According to the Ministry of Health, there are 116,370 people in the DHB's region, which covers Rotorua and the wider Taupō and Tūrangi areas. Rotorua and Taupō have hospitals.
McClay was quoted in the Daily Post article.
In a question to Health Minister Andrew Little in Parliament, McClay asked if the minister about the figures.
"Why are there only four resourced ICU beds in the whole of the Lakes DHB area with either three or all four in use for 60 per cent of the past two months?" McClay said.
"Will he give an absolute assurance to the people of Rotorua and Taupō that no one who needs a resourced ICU bed will miss out?"
Holding a bar graph with small blue bars next to long red ones, Little claimed in four years the Labour Government had invested six times as much in public health facilities as the previous National Government, which McClay was a member of, did in nine years.
"What I can reassure that member, because of his failure to speak up for his own constituents during the time his party was in Government, is that we will have the care available for all of people who require hospital-level care as a result of the pandemic," he said.
"If it's not in their local hospital, it'll be because the response that we are putting in place is organised on a regional hospital basis and they will get that care in the hospital system that they need."
A ruckus erupted in Parliament as Little presented the graph and spoke.
Mallard warned McClay if he complained about Little's answer or if he responded with a disorderly comment, he would be kicked out of Parliament.
McClay replied: "Thank you, Mr Speaker, there was so much noise I couldn't hear the speaker to whether he confirmed there were only four ... "
Before McClay could finish his sentence, Mallard said that was what he had warned the Rotorua MP about and told him to leave.
As reported in the Rotorua Daily Post this morning, McClay called on the Government to urgently increase intensive care capacity in the area following the ICU development.
Waiariki MP Rawiri Waititi said the region could face a "huge catastrophe" in an outbreak and wanted to see more support for people self-isolating.
Lakes District Health Board chief executive Nick Saville-Wood said the biggest challenge was staff resourcing, and vaccination rates need to increase.
A Ministry of Health spokesman said all DHBs had done "significant planning and preparation work" to manage an outbreak, and Little said he was confident DHBs could care for people ill with Covid.
Little said the Government had been preparing for an outbreak since August last year.
He said additional ICU capacity was available where needed, and the ministry had a store of 250 ventilators in addition to the 430 deployed around New Zealand.
The vaccination campaign meant fewer people with Covid would require hospital care and would instead be able to recover at home with involvement from primary and community care, including Māori-led organisations.