ACC to own new health centre in Westport

The West Coast DHB will enter a lease with ACC to use a new $12 million hospital in Westport.
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The West Coast DHB will enter a lease with ACC to use a new $12 million hospital in Westport.

The West Coast District Health Board (WCDHB) will enter a "long-term" lease deal with ACC for a new $12 million hospital on the West Coast.

The West Coast Hospital Redevelopment Partnership Group announced ACC will be the owners of the proposed Buller Integrated Family Health Centre in Westport.

Construction of the new centre is expected to be completed in the first half of 2019. The Ministry of Health will fund the project, which will be repaid upon completion. The hospital's ownership will then be transferred to the WCDHB and on-sold to ACC.

Site B on Pakington St, Westport, was selected for the new Buller Integrated Family Health Centre site.
MINISTRY OF HEALTH

Site B on Pakington St, Westport, was selected for the new Buller Integrated Family Health Centre site.

The sale involves the DHB selling the land it owns at the selected Pakington St site. The DHB will be required to consult the local community and get ministerial approval.

Partnership group chairwoman Cathy Cooney said the WCDHB endorsed the funding arrangement at its board meeting in May.

"This is a key milestone in getting this new centre constructed by the first half of 2019. The focus now is on completing detailed design and tendering for the construction works," she said.

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists Association executive director Ian Powell called for public disclosure of the deal and independent scrutiny of the risks as he feared the lease arrangement would take "money away from patient care and hand it to third party investors".

"While ACC is a Crown entity, in this deal it will be operating like a private firm seeking to profit from the financial arrangement.

"The costs of building hospitals and other essential health infrastructure has always been regarded as a core part of government spending. Taxpayers expect their taxes to be used to provide the health care services they need."

Powell said he was concerned the proposal would strip "millions of dollars" from health care on the West Coast.

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"A crucial factor is the rate of return, which we understand will be between $750,000 and $1 million going to ACC each year over and above what would be paid back to the Crown under its normal formula for capital works funding," he said.

"At the same time, the West Coast DHB will be totally responsible for maintaining the new facility."

Powell said he understood the partnership group was initially seeking private equity to bankroll the hospital, but was unable to find a private investor.

The new facility will house two emergency beds, one maternity bed, six medical beds and one palliative care bed. The centre includes adult dental services, GPs, practice nurses and Allied Health. It is expected to be 1632 square metres in size.

West Coast DHB chairwoman Jenny Black, said the board would not be discussing details of the lease at this stage as many details were commercially sensitive.

The plan to sell the Pakington St land would be open for consultation soon though, she said.

"From the DHB's perspective our focus remains on being able to continue to provide a range of services for the Buller community from facilities that are modern, safe and fit for purpose.

"West Coast DHB teams are already working on new models of care which will allow us to provide services in different ways which are sustainable and provide the best value for the public funds available to us."

 - Stuff

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