Christchurch patients, staff face disruption

Last updated 05:00 30/01/2013
Mark Webb
DUST UP: Ingenuity is often required to extract dust from work areas as earthquake repairs and scheduled maintenance get under way at Christchurch Hospital. Project manager Mark Webb stands under such a system in the Neonatal Unit.

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One of the biggest health overhauls since the February 2011 earthquake could force half of Christchurch Hospital's patients and staff to move.

It has been estimated that quake repairs at the city's main hospital would cost $300 million and cause five years of disruption.

Plans to move quake-displaced wards back to the hospital could see 45 per cent of occupants relocate internally.

Three medical wards from the damaged Riverside block had to move to Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) in Cashmere after the quake, and patients have been split across the two sites since.

Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) medical and surgical general manager Pauline Clark said a "major consultation" on the plan to bring the wards back to Christchurch Hospital had been carried out.

"There has been a considerable amount of feedback [from staff], which is expected. We're talking about 45 per cent of the hospital having to move," she told the board's hospital advisory committee yesterday.

The meeting agenda said the reorganisation would be "one of the larger processes of relocation" since the quake.

"The current concept impacts 13 wards or services and involves considerable staff relocation," it said.

Wards that may have to move include the in-patient, surgical, child cancer and physiotherapy wards.

CDHB chief medical officer of health Nigel Millar said it was not as simple as "picking the three wards up and putting them back in the hospital".

"Because the wards they were in [before the quakes] aren't there any more, we're asking a lot of wards and services to shift," he said.

The board did not say when the relocation would occur or how long it would take.

Board chief executive David Meates said out of 200 board-owned buildings, 30 had been closed because of damage, 21 were quake-prone but still in use and 30 had major structural weaknesses.

Committee member Andrew Dickerson told The Press he supported bringing the medical wards back from PMH, but the planned redevelopment of Christchurch Hospital, which is sitting with the Government, should be progressed as a "matter or urgency".

New Zealand Nurses Organisation Christchurch organiser Christin Watson said the transition would create "challenges and disruption", but staff were "extremely pleased with the level of involvement".

"If the level of engagement continues, then the outcome should be sustainable as long as staffing levels are maintained and the skill mix is right in new teams on new wards," he said.

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Watson said the transition was expected to take place between winter and spring.

Meanwhile, upgrades and repairs at Hillmorton and Burwood hospitals will cause disruption for the next 12 to 18 months.

- The Press

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