Raw sewage leaks at Whangrei’s hospital have “appalled but not surprised” the city’s MP.
The Northland District Health Board expects the piping will take two years to replace because it is surrounded by asbestos.
The ‘soil stack’ runs down six floors in the medical wing and will cost $2.8 million to fix.
“It’s terrible, and what it really talks about is the rundown state of our hospital that should have been fixed years ago,” Labour MP Dr Emily Henderson told RNZ.
The Northland District Health Board has been in talks with the government since 2015, trying to get funding to rebuild or redevelop the hospital, but so far no money has been ringfenced.
The DHB initially pitched a $1 billion rebuild but that was rejected and a partial redevelopment proposal was put forward instead, with a cost reduced to $572 million.
Health Minister Andrew Little has said this weekend that the government will likely decide whether the redevelopment goes ahead, and at what cost, early next year.
Henderson said “major investment” was being negotiated, but she acknowledged the immediate sewage situation was “awful” and it added to a long list of infrastructure woes at the site.
“I am appalled but unsurprised.”
She said Labour was dealing with a “mess” from National’s “underinvestment” in health infrastructure.
“That makes me furious because Whangārei and Northland is already an area with poor health, it has needed ongoing support over many many years and has never never had it.”
But Henderson said that was now changing – with Labour spending $72 million on new operating theatres and a cardiac catheter laboratory since 2017.
“I’m very confident that we will do everything in our power. These are obviously difficult times financially but this government is really determined to clean up the mess.”
But National’s health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti – who is based in Whangārei – said Labour had focused too much on health reforms, not facilities like Whangārei’s.
“The small part of the $486 million that was put aside in this year’s budget for health restructuring would have gone a long way to address this.”