Manukau DHB slammed for slow progress on rotting Middlemore Hospital buildings

  • 22/03/2018

The Health Minister is demanding answers from the Counties Manukau District Health Board (DHB) after it failed to tell him about hospital buildings filled with rot and fungus.

Four buildings at Middlemore Hospital are facing bacteria or cladding issues.

The Kidz First building is one of the affected ones. Built in the year 2000, its exterior walls are now full of fungus and bacteria.

"I'm really shocked by it," said Manukau ward councillor Efeso Collins.

"We're sending sick kids from damp houses in south Auckland to a damp hospital - they're not going to be well there."

Kidz First is not the only the building to cause concern - the Manukau Superclinic has bacteria, fungus and rot in the walls. It's a similar story in the McIndoe building, while the Scott building has sub-standard cladding.

It's a problem the DHB has known about for years.

"They knew about the Scott building in 2012 and then there was more information that came to hand in 2015," Mr Collins said.

"To wait until 2018 to get active and finally do something about it and have no information out to the public is just not acceptable from the DHB."

Not even the Health Minister knew the extent of the problem.

"I'm going to have a frank conversation with the acting chair today to see what he has to say," David Clark said.

"I'm a little disappointed other building issues weren't raised with me when I was there."

The buildings were constructed at the height of the leaky building crisis. It is now known the DHB took the builder - Hawkins Construction - to court in 2012. They settled for an undisclosed amount.

Officials say repairs are now being prioritised, but stress the buildings will remain open.

The Counties Manukau DHB says the fungal growth presents no safety risk because it's in the walls. It says there's a barrier between where repair works are carried out and where the patients are.

This afternoon the Health Minister announced $11 million in funding to fix the Scott building, the one building he knew had problems.

He's made it clear the DHB is now on notice as it faces a repair bill in the tens of millions of dollars.