Some ageing infrastructure at Whanganui Hospital scores poorly in a government report on the state of New Zealand's hospitals but Whanganui District Health Board says it generally functions well.
The national asset management stocktake report released yesterday says it will cost $14 billion over the next 10 years to fix hospital asset problems across the country.
The stocktake was prompted by issues with Middlemore Hospital's infrastructure revealed in 2018.
While Whanganui DHB's hospital buildings rate reasonably well in the report, some of the services that keep them running are inadequate, the report says.
Whanganui was one of 10 DHBs with "good" scores for its buildings' condition and, in an assessment of mental health inpatient units, Te Awhina's design principles scored a "good". An assessment of a hospital inpatient ward received an "average" rating.
However, although it scored "good" for its site-wide electrical infrastructure and "average" for its mechanical infrastructure, the report identified a number of areas that are not up to scratch.
Whanganui Hospital's ward and administration building scored average overall but has several poor components, the report says.
"The hot water distribution scored poor to very poor. Vertical transport (lifts), local
electrical distribution boards, the local HVAC system, cooling distribution, and the building management system, scored average to poor. There is a lack of cooling with the old central plant in average to poor condition. Monitoring of pipe work is recommended due to reported failures."
It says the windows, doors, cladding and internal fabric of the pump house are in average to poor condition.
"The building is scheduled for demolition but contains critical electrical infrastructure that will need to be relocated."
Whanganui DHB corporate general manager Andrew McKinnon said the DHB doesn't have the original structural plans for the pump house which is made of reinforced steel and yesterday a structural engineer had checked the building's structural integrity.
"If the structural integrity is poor the pump house will be removed this year and another structure built in its place," McKinnon said.
"The outcome of the structural report may be that the existing building remains but is strengthened."
Although the electrical reticulation is in good to average condition, it's near the end of its life.
In the last two years the DHB has updated switchboards in Lambie House and plans to upgrade two switchboards near the Spotless building and in the Whanganui Regional Health Network building, McKinnon said.
"Electrical infrastructure is updated as we refurbish buildings through the campuses. We will be upgrading electrical infrastructure at Community Mental Health and the ground floor at Lambie House as these areas are refurbished in the near future."
The report says most of the mechanical infrastructure is the original installation and in average condition.
"The sewer drains and stormwater are in poor condition. The hot and cold water reticulation and cold-water holding tank are in average to poor condition. The internal fabric of the tunnel between the pump house and the theatre services is in average condition and deteriorating."
For the most part, the infrastructure works and is reliable and maintainable, McKinnon said, "even though it is old, as it likely is at other hospitals and DHB facilities around New Zealand".
"When planning major projects we look at all aspects of infrastructure and take the opportunity to update it as well as fixing or replacing anything immediately if is not working."
Asbestos is an issue for some DHBs but McKinnon said Whanganui DHB's buildings "as a whole" have a low risk of asbestos.
"We know this based on a management survey from a specialist company which was undertaken recently on all of our buildings," McKinnon said.
"There is potential for some asbestos in or under vinyl floor coverings in some buildings but this risk is low. There is low risk asbestos on the roofs of Community Mental Health (Whanganui Hospital) and on Taihape Hospital.
"It is not dangerous until anything is altered, replaced or removed. When we do major work on any building, asbestos is removed safely."
While some DHBs were slammed for their IT systems, Whanganui scored well in that area.
Its pharmacy management system was rated very good and its financial management and patient administration systems and clinical portals were good.
Some DHBs' emergency departments, operating theatres suites and intensive care units were also assessed but Whanganui's were not.
The Ministry of Health is working on a programme to improve asset management in the health sector and plans to complete a national asset management plan, based on the stocktakes, for funding consideration by Government in 2022.