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Facility progress concerns

MoH queries delay, ‘lack of clarity’ around new mental health and addictions building

A PROJECT manager is now in place for Gisborne’s new acute mental health and addictions facility – two years after the Government committed up to $20 million for the project.

Documents released under the Official Information Act show the Ministry of Health raised “some concern” about the crown-funded project in April, including its lack of a project manager.

The April update on the Ministry’s Health Capital Envelope said concerns also stemmed from the availability of the project’s senior responsible officer and a “lack of clarity” around responsibilities, key deliverables and timeframes in the lead consultant/architect’s proposed contract scope.

Hauora Tairāwhiti district health board said it had “purposely” delayed appointing a project manager because the role wasn’t needed until the design and build phase.

A project manager was appointed in July 2021 — at least eight months after DHB chief executive Jim Green told The Gisborne Herald they were working on the detailed design and drawings for the building.

Ministry of Health deputy director-general of infrastructure Karen Mitchell said a project manager hadn’t been appointed in April as “originally planned” but they were now “comfortable” that the right resources and plans were in place.

Government ministers approved the $18.8m business case for the inpatient facility in August last year.

It followed former Health Minister Dr David Clark’s announcement in the 2019 Wellbeing Budget that Hauora Tairāwhiti’s eight-bed facility Te Whare Awhiora would be replaced.

Dr Clark said Te Whare Awhiora was “not fit for purpose”, particularly the seclusion rooms and outdoor areas.

The new facility, which is in the design phase, will have 11 beds, three of which will be high dependency beds. There will be no seclusion rooms.

It will be located at Gisborne Hospital in front of the corporate building and is expected to open in early 2024.

Mr Green said they were developing a model of care for the facility based on the Whāriki vision for mental health and addictions services in Tairāwhiti, which came out of extensive engagement with the community.

This would inform the concept design and detailed design.

This vision for care would be coupled with architectural and cultural input to create a building that was designed to enable care and recovery for Tairāwhiti people and their families and whānau.

“The building will be both beautiful and functional, to enhance the care and healing,” Mr Green said.

He would not give more details around the Ministry’s concerns, saying that it was discussed with the Health Infrastructure Unit (HIU) at that time and had been resolved.

“The purpose of the partnership between the HIU and Hauora Tairāwhiti for this project is to meld the expertise of each party to the successful delivery of the project.

“The dialogue from the HIU reflects that effort to ensure the project advances in a considered and expedient manner.”

Ministry of Health staff visited the DHB in regards to the project in May, July and August, and there was regular phone, email and video contact, Mr Green said.

Ms Mitchell, of the Ministry, said the Mental Health Infrastructure Programme (MHIP) was established in early 2021 to provide additional support for DHBs facing similar issues when improving their mental health facilities.

“Following agreement with the Minister of Health, the programme is now being escalated to provide even more support so that DHB project teams have the resourcing and advice they need to deliver their projects in good timeframes.

“The Minister has informed the DHB that to accelerate the development of this project, the DHB will be required to work closely with the Ministry Health Infrastructure Unit moving forward.”

This facility was one of 16 mental health infrastructure projects around the country.

RESOURCES AND PLANS IN PLACE: The Ministry of Health says it is “comfortable” the right resources and plans are in place for a new mental health and addictions facility at Gisborne Hospital. The Ministry had earlier raised “some concerns”. Picture by Liam Clayton