100 health staff moving to Richmond base

Nearly 100 health organisation staff are moving out of Nelson to Richmond.

The 43 Public Health Service staff now based in Franklyn St by Nelson Hospital and 55 Nelson Bays Primary Health (NBPH) staff who work out of two premises in New St will move to share one building in Queen St.

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese said it highlighted an issue that not enough attention had been paid to the need for Nelson to have a good office supply.

The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board and the Primary Health Organisation will jointly lease the former Network Tasman building from the company. The three-storey building is being modernised and an extension, yet to be consented, is to be built.

NBPH chief executive Andrew Swanson Dobbs acknowledged it was a significant number of people to take out of Nelson but said the move made sense. "It was not a decision made lightly," he said.

The move had been prompted by a rent review on the New St offices coming up on July 1 and they had discussed what facilities they needed and that had resulted in the idea of co-locating services with Public Health.

They did not find any suitable premises in Nelson and then the Network Tasman-owned building came up, and was available from July 1, met 100 per cent seismic standards and they were able to fit it out.

The Richmond location meant it was more central to the whole geographical area the health services worked in. The move would also result in marginal savings.

"A whole lot of opportunities came up and we grabbed it," he said.

Reese said it made business sense for the health services. "However, it highlights that we need to be very mindful in Nelson that we make sure that we have offices available. I think we have some work to do."

Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dot Kettle said it was a significant number of people to move from Nelson City.

It made sense to have clusters and co-location of businesses whether it was restaurants, manufacturing or health. "That's what you want to see happen. It's good if it happens through natural growth; it would be nice to have an overall regional plan that facilitated that."

The NBPH staff and some of the Public Health staff will move into the Richmond offices on July 1 and once the extension is built the rest of the Public Health staff will move, which is likely to be in November.

Public Health staff, who include public health nurses, medical officers of health, health promotion and health protection officers, now work out of three properties in Franklyn St. Health board chief executive Chris Fleming said the houses were in need of extensive renovation.They would probably be sold and removed from the site.

"This gives us an opportunity to create a community-facing service that delivers benefits through co-locating whilst presenting opportunities to make savings," he said.

"We believe that this offers the best selection of functions to meet the PHS outcomes for a healthier population through improvement in Maori health, increased safeguards for the public's health, and a reduced burden of acute and chronic disease."

NBPH is the primary health organisation or PHO for the Nelson region, and most general practices and many other community based health organisations are affiliated with it.