The Government has approved a new $115 million 64-bed mental health facility to replace the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre at Waikato Hospital.
A business plan for the new Te Pae Tawhiti Adult Acute Mental Health Inpatient Facility has been approved, along with a $40m replacement of the Waikato Regional Renal Centre.
Construction of a new mental health inpatient facility on the Waiora Waikato hospital campus - with groundwork expected to start mid-2023 - will require the demolition of buildings occupying the land, including the current Waikato Regional Renal Centre.
Former DHB iwi Māori council chair and Raukawa Settlement/Charitable Chair Kataraina Hodge says that, on behalf of iwi in the Waikato, it is a great relief to have the business plan approved.
"The new Adult Acute Mental Health Inpatient Facility is very important and is a much-needed building for our community.
The new mental health facility will provide a welcoming and therapeutic environment for people who are experiencing mental illness and seeking wellness (tangata whaiora), as well as for their whānau.
Te Whatu Ora Waikato Mental Health & Addictions Service operations director Vicki Aitken says this is a major milestone towards the delivery of the facility.
"Having an environment that supports recovery and wellbeing, that has a culturally and clinically safe and effective service, is an essential part of a well-functioning system for mental health care," said Aitken.
The need for specialist mental health services continues to grow, with a 100 per cent increase in people accessing mental health services over the past 12 years.
The new mental health facility is part of a wide programme working to develop community and secondary mental health and addiction services in Waikato and to ensure services can be accessed earlier and closer to where people live.
Te Whatu Ora Waikato Renal Medicine's head of department Dr Drew Henderson is also pleased with the announcement of a new Waikato Regional Renal Centre.
"The new unit will give us a long-term home that meets international standards for our patients who are on dialysis.
"This will enable us to deliver all our outpatient services within one dedicated building, with a range of specialists on-site, as the renal services will be all together.
Te Whatu Ora Waikato interim district co-director Chris Lowry says mental health and addiction services are a priority, and approval of the detailed business case is a significant step forward.
Planning and design work for both buildings has continued alongside the business case development. All of the steps until now included exploration and analysis of several options.
"With our preferred option now approved, we can now move forward with completing the remaining design for each facility."
Groundworks on both facilities are expected to start in mid-2023. The mental health facility will be built in two phases as it will be situated on the old renal centre site. This allows the new renal centre to be completed and the services to move in, making way for the mental health building to be completed.