New base hospital in tip top shape

Remedial work on the $80 million base hospital project is either being or has been completed - and it won't add to the bill.

Taranaki District Health Board chief Tony Foulkes said yesterday any correctional work required on the main building and on the yet to be completed link corridor was not major.

The result is a new hospital which will be completed on time and on budget - and to a standard well above what is required.

Foulkes gave a candid insight into the project yesterday in the wake of suggestions of a lack of transparency over the remedial work - and who was paying.

There would be no additional cost to the taxpayer while the minor problems were corrected, Foulkes assured the Taranaki Daily News.

"Of course in any major build there are going to be hiccups but in terms of the overall job, we are on track and on budget."

Foulkes moved to quell any concerns people may have been left with that there were any issues of patient safety.

"We don't want to undermine people's confidence in what is a great facility which has great staff and offers great services."

Board chairman Pauline Lockett echoed Foulkes' assurances.

Following the Daily News report on Thursday, Foulkes, in a written statement to all staff, moved to assure staff that the building was safe and "probably the most modern and sophisticated building in Taranaki".

Foulkes said the main building, including the wards and operating theatres, had been officially handed over by the contractors, Fletchers Construction, and was fully occupied and functional.

However, the link corridor was still under construction and will be handed over on June 27 at the official opening by Health Minister Tony Ryall.

While the new earthquake building standards require the link corridor to meet only level 2, the board had asked contractors for this to be increased to a level 3.

"We want it to meet the next level," he said.

But any work to increase the standard would be invisible and not disruptive to the functioning of the hospital, Foulkes promised.

In comparison, the occupied and functioning new hospital building was built to a level 4 making it the safest commercial building in the region, he said.

As with any new building it was never 100 per cent from move-in date on day one, he said.

Any problems pointed out to the contractors were immediately dealt with.

Since handover, the new hospital was 99.9 per cent fixed.

Foulkes acknowledged there was a slope in the corner of two of the operating theatres but this did not affect the theatres' functionality.

"We are still providing more surgery than ever before and meeting all the targets," he said.

Foulkes said over his career he had been involved in the building of three new hospitals.

"This is the third new hospital building in my career and I can safely say Project Maunga and the transition has been the smoothest," he said.

"The feedback from everyone has been fantastic."

Taranaki Daily News