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Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Counties Manukau DHB’s $52.1m underspend on major projects exposed

According to information released by Te Whatu Ora a number of major projects at Middlemore Hospital have been affected by the now defunct Counties Manukau DHB failure to spend $42 million allocated for capital works. The figures only include projects that had a budget of $1m or more. Photo: Supplied.
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Local Democracy Reporting | Free Public Interest News Service

Fifty-two million dollars meant for major health projects went unspent by Counties Manukau District Health Board in the last financial year.

New figures released by Te Whatu Ora (Health NZ) show a total of $52.1m was underspent to June 30 this year.

Projects involved included remediation of the Manukau Elective Surgical Hospital building ($5.6m), Kidz First and McIndoe building repairs ($5.8m), neonatal unit expansion ($1.2m), Ward 22 redevelopment ($4.9m), radiology replacement equipment ($3m) and the Manukau Health Park CT machine replacement ($2.2m).

Other works included the refurbishment of the Middlemore emergency department (ED) and a new CT machine ($706,365), a lift for Middlemore Hospital and Manukau Surgery Centre ($1.6m) and the expansion of the cardiac catheter laboratory and dialysis unit ($1.8m).

In a statement, a Te Whatu Ora spokesperson said the board had an approved capital spending plan for the year of $111.9m, resulting in a $52.1m capital underspend, which has yet to be signed off by auditors.

“The funding has been carried over into the next financial year and the projects will be completed.”
The spokesperson said the main reasons for the under-spend was to supply chain issues, both locally and internationally, consent and compliance delays and business cases for the projects taking longer than expected.

“Covid lockdowns and surges during the financial year also significantly impacted our ability to proceed with the planned capital plan.”

Health Minister Andrew Little was approached for comment about the number of major projects at Middlemore Hospital that had been affected by the DHB’s underspend. Photo: Mark Taylor/Stuff

Minister of Health Andrew Little was also approached for comment, but did not respond.

Patient Voice Aotearoa chairperson Malcolm Mulholland described the numbers as “shocking”.

“An underspend of this magnitude that is supposed to be directed towards New Zealand’s highest needs population, at a time when we are experiencing our worst health crisis? This is incompetency at its worst,” he said.

“The people of Counties Manukau are, as a consequence, missing out on a range of services from ED, to having surgery, to treating cancer, to having their mental health needs met.”

Mulholland said someone needs to be held to account.

“If the underspend is intentional rather than due to building supply issues and the like, then the people of Counties Manukau deserve an apology and an explanation as to why their health is not being prioritised and not seen as being important enough by the powers that be.”

National Party health spokesman Dr Shane Reti was of a similar view.

“If the Middlemore Hospital emergency department needs a new CT machine it should have it. Especially when ED wait times at Middlemore are likely to be under pressure over the Christmas period,” Reti said.

He said other under pressure departments like radiology need all the help they can get.

“There’s a need for some accountability here.”

Last month Te Whatu Ora chairman Rob Campbell said after a recent visit to Middlemore Hospital’s emergency department, waiting room facilities were inadequate for the number of patients using it.

There has also been a backlog of people waiting for CT scans and pressure on radiology services at Middlemore Hospital.

Local democracy reporting

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