Jacinda Ardern and David Clark announce $100 million for Waikato mental health facility

The Prime Minister and the Health Minister have announced $100 million in funding for a new mental health facility for the Waikato region. 

The new facility - expected to have capacity for an extra 10-20 more beds - will replace the ageing Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre in Hamilton. 

Jacinda Ardern said it's important people that people in the region can access the mental health and addiction services they need at an early stage.

"That's why we're building new frontline services as part of our record investment in mental health and addiction... Having the right facilities that support people's treatment and recovery is also a key part of our plan."

She said the current centre is "no longer fit for purpose", and described it as "outdated" in that it "does not provide the right environment to support a focus on recovery and mental wellbeing for patients", despite dedicated staff. 

Health Minister David Clark said there's been a 72 percent increase in people seen by Waikato DHB's mental health and addiction services over the last decade. 

"Each month, there are nearly 100 admissions to the Henry Rongomau Bennet Centre, which has 53 beds," he said. 

"This new facility is expected to have capacity for an extra 10-20 more beds. That will make a real difference.

"Today's announcement gives the Waikato DHB the green-light to push ahead with its planning and development of its indicative business case."

The Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre in Hamilton.
The Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre in Hamilton. Photo credit: Maps

That is expected to be complete early next year, followed by the detailed business case in early 2021. 

The $100 million funding is subject to approval of the final business case, and building expected to start in 2022, with the facility due to open in 2023.

The announcement follows a number of investments by the Government since Budget 2018 in hospitals and health facilities - mainly in Auckland - of more than $100 million. 

One of the biggest investments was in Taranaki, with $300m earmarked to redevelop Taranaki Base Hospital, building a new east wing to house a range of critical and acute services.

Auckland DHB got $275 million to address infrastructure challenges at Auckland City Hospital and Greenlane Clinical Centre.

The Government also pledged $200m - plus $42.1m from the DHB - for a new elective surgery unit at North Shore Hospital in Auckland.