Middlemore mess grows, Coleman blamed

RNZ broke the story of a building in very poor condition at Middlemore Hospital, and that grew to multiple buildings.

The building at Middlemore Hospital that houses the country’s largest maternity service might have to be knocked down because it is unstable and riddled with asbestos. The hospital says it’s getting to the point it would be cheaper to build new buildings than repair the existing ones.

Raw sewage has been leaking into the walls of Middlemore Hospital’s Scott building, on top of all the other problems with its buildings.

Seven buildings were considered of “high concern” with asbestos, leaks, critical infrastructure problems and some seismic concerns.

Press editorial: Middlemore is a bleak symbol of health failure

 If you wanted to devise a metaphor for a failing health system, you could not do better than images of toxic mould and rot, leaking sewage and power failures at Middlemore Hospital in south Auckland. It is as though underfunding had taken on physical form at a hospital that serves some of the most deprived communities in the country.

The new Government has inherited these problems from a National Government that prided itself on running a tight financial ship. Even as recently as this week, when worsening news about Middlemore appeared in the media, new National leader Simon Bridges stuck to a script about prudent financial management and passed the buck back to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister David Clark.

But the responsibility for this and other problems of underfunding and general neglect in the health system really need to be sheeted home to former Health Minister Jonathan Coleman, who has already signalled his departure from politics for the private health system. Many National MPs are said to quietly blame Coleman for their 2017 election result as both health and mental health became political quagmires.

Many are disappointed that Coleman’s sudden departure from politics means he will not face the music over Middlemore. An interview on RNZ’s Morning Report ended with the former minister hanging up when questions about Middlemore were asked. It was a sad but symbolic end for Coleman, who claimed he had not been warned about the line of questioning. RNZ said that, in fact, he had.

More crucially, what did Coleman know about Middlemore? Bridges has said the National Government knew about Counties Manukau Health’s need for extra capital but not about the specifics of its buildings. Others have said that the problem of toxic mould at Middlemore was something of an open secret in Wellington but one that somehow never made it to the ears of the former Health Minister.

Middlemore isn’t the only hospital with major building problems, Dunedin being another with asbestos and leak problems (this has been known for years). The rebuild of Dunedin, promised by Labour, may have to wait if expensive repairs have to be pushed forward elsewhere.

 

45 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  April 6, 2018

    Coleman another…rat…overboard.

    • artcroft

       /  April 6, 2018

      Labour have two jobs here.
      1. Blame National – fair enough they were in charge.
      2. Fix the problem pronto – ie tell Shane Jones to drop his ‘give a conman a hug’ programme and fix Middlemore with his slush fund.

      My guess is they’ll get as far as job 1 before distraction sets in.

  2. Callum

     /  April 6, 2018

    Blame lies squarely with the DHB. You missed out above the nice shiny new learning centre that the Board prioritised ahead of fixing existing buildings.

    • Patzcuaro

       /  April 6, 2018

      Which ever way you look at it they have been underfunded for years. Capital expenditure should been funded separately to their annual running costs.

      Maybe the buildings could be funded by entities like the super fund and leased to the DHBs, at least that way the maintenance would get done.

      • PDB

         /  April 6, 2018

        Patz: “Which ever way you look at it they have been underfunded for years”

        Which ever way you look at it that is purely your opinion and not based on fact. Until we can understand how the DHB used their funding this is simply just an opportunity to bash the previous govt.

        • Patzcuaro

           /  April 6, 2018

          The cost of providing health services and the cost of maintaining the buildings should be owned and funded separately, removing any chance of money given for one spent on the other.

      • David

         /  April 6, 2018

        “Maybe the buildings could be funded by entities like the super fund and leased to the DHBs, at least that way the maintenance would get done.”

        Did you not see what happened with the PFI hospital s in the UK?

  3. Griff

     /  April 6, 2018

    The national government has been running a ponzi scam for years
    Bring in new investors of NZ inc to pay off existing investors in nz inc
    Thats us.
    National allowed thousands of low productivity immigrants diluting our individual share of the nations GDP.
    The student visa scam was all about depressing wages and destroying the rights of NZ workers.
    We now see the scam coming to its predictable conclusion.
    Gridlocked roads, unaffordable housing, over stressed infrastructure and low incomes magnifying social problems.
    Nationals leadership should be jailed for the fraud perpetrated on all of us who call this country home.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  April 6, 2018

      Or you could look at reality.
      There are significant skills requirements to enter NZ. The irony is it is the low skilled sectors are absolutely crying out for immigration to be loosened as they cannot find employees.
      The Government is in surplus and there is money available to pay for capital requirements if you stop handing out money for free tertiary education and tram lines.
      NZ has had real wage growth under National as good as it was pre-GFC – and ahead of most trading partners.

      • Griff

         /  April 6, 2018

        The irony is it is the low skilled sectors are absolutely crying out for immigration to be loosened as they cannot find employees.

        Pay a truck , bus driver or a dairy worker 20 bucks an hour and wonder why you can not get good peploe? Because a kiwi will not work in a shite job for minimum wage.
        You are trying to get them to work for below market rates .
        National had a policy of bringing in low skilled “students”: from the third world who will work for peanuts .
        The result.
        A truck driver or factory worker can earn far more in the Australia.
        Productive kiwis have been leaving in droves for better wages and conditions across the Tasman.
        Meantime our social fabric has been altered by a massive influx of third world immigrants.
        Its a scam. Even the immigration department admits so called students are not here to learn but to work and gain residence.
        We all own this country .
        Not just the few wealthy employers that national has catered for.

        • High Flying Duck

           /  April 6, 2018

          So do we have immigration or emigration issues in NZ Griff?

          Net migration to Australia made an abrupt u-turn when National came in to power.

          “While the number of people moving to New Zealand hit another record high in the year to the end of January, much of the overall gain comes from fewer New Zealand citizens heading overseas, especially Australia.

          Economists at Westpac said that in 12 months the net loss of New Zealand citizens heading overseas fell to just over 1700, the lowest annual loss since 1984.

          Satish Ranchhod, senior economist at Westpac, said New Zealand’s strong labour market was making staying home “very attractive” for Kiwis.

          “It’s really reflecting the relative strength of New Zealand’s economy” to other destinations, Ranchhod said.

          In January [2017] a net 385 New Zealanders moved overseas, but this was more than offset by a net gain of 633 Australian citizens moving to this side of the Tasman.”

          • Blazer

             /  April 6, 2018

            the contraction of the mining industry and its domino effect in Oz was the reason…Kiwis stayed here.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  April 6, 2018

              And Aussies started moving here?
              And immigration from England increased?
              Surely despite the mining issues you could still move to Australia and get paid more for truck driving or dairy work?

    • Patzcuaro

       /  April 6, 2018

      Because of our small size immigration has been used to stimulate the economy, nothing wrong with that but the infrastructure has not been increased to cover the increased population.

    • PartisanZ

       /  April 6, 2018

      @Griff – “The national government has been running a ponzi scam for years”

      I do declare that on this site the downticks are usually inversely proportionate to how near a comment is to the ‘Bullseye’ …

      • High Flying Duck

         /  April 6, 2018

        Yes fact-free posts seem to hoard the downticks, don’t they Parti?

        • phantom snowflake

           /  April 6, 2018

          Well no; your fact-free post yesterday stating that the Super City was a “Labour project” didn’t get too many downticks. But do feel free to “Duck And Run” again!

          • High Flying Duck

             /  April 6, 2018

            “The mayors of greater Auckland have unveiled a plan to change the local government system across the region – from Rodney in the north to Franklin in the south.

            The announcement comes after Auckland City Mayor Dick Hubbard, North Shore Mayor George Wood, Waitakere City Mayor Bob Harvey and Manukau City Mayor Sir Barry Curtis met with the prime minister and government ministers on Thursday, to brief them on their vision of Auckland melding into a single entity.

            The plan involves creating a greater Auckland council, which would mean scrapping the Auckland Regional Council.

            It would also see the creation of three cities, North Harbour, Auckland and Counties Manukau, which would mean changing the boundaries of existing city and district councils.

            Hubbard says the new governance structure would provide more grunt. It would streamline governance, speed up progress in the region and future-proof Auckland.

            “It will be one plan, one voice, a single vision. At the moment, we’re a collection of cities struggling to co-ordinate our activities. The lack of cohesive strategy is inhibiting progress,” says Hubbard.

            Advertisement

            Fear of not delivering on Rugby World Cup expectations is one of the drivers of the plan.

            Hubbard says with 18% of the time before the event already gone, there is still no coherent plan for delivery in order to reap the $445 million worth of economic benefits associated with the event.

            He says if Auckland fails, New Zealand fails too.

            There will be no public consultation on the plan. However the government will have to make law changes for it to go ahead.

            Prime Minister Helen Clark supports the proposal and wants to see it implemented.”

            http://tvnz.co.nz/content/827184/2483318.html – Sept 2006

          • High Flying Duck

             /  April 6, 2018

            The plan (from 2006):

            The key points of the proposition are:

            A Greater Auckland Council (GAC)

            A directly elected head of the GAC.

            Representation on the GAC by the Mayors of the Auckland Region cities or councils in conjunction with directly elected and/or appointed representatives.

            A redefining of the responsibility of the current cities and councils into the “delivery arms” of the GAC, albeit allowing these entities to have distinctive local identities that reflect individual social, environmental, economic and cultural characteristics.

            Reconsideration of the number of cities or councils, their boundaries and urban limits, while appreciating that this may need to come after the transitional arrangements have been put in place.

            The use of well structured CCO’s (Council Controlled Organisations) reporting directly to the GAC to run regional structures such as Ports of Auckland,
            Watercare, ARTA, Emergency management, Parks etc, maximising business expertise and minimising political interference.

            A common rating system and shared services between councils.

            • phantom snowflake

               /  April 6, 2018

              Oh so now it’s the Mayors who wanted the Super City?? Your tvnz item doesn’t even quote Helen Clark. “Out for a duck” again I’m afraid! Also; do you get paid for your endless National Party cheerleading? Your fellow National Party hacks who populate this site at least occasionally disagree with some minor aspect of National’s policy or performance.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  April 6, 2018

              So after strongly supporting the plan, and putting in place the Royal Commission to set up the Super City in 2007, Helen Clark was then somehow nothing to do with the Super City?

              “The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance was established by the New Zealand Government to investigate the local government arrangements of Auckland.

              The Labour Government of the time announced a Royal Commission into the governance of Auckland on 30 July 2007 and it appointed three Commissioners and terms of reference at the end of October of that year. The Commissioners were David Shand, Peter Salmon, and Dame Margaret Bazley.[1]”

              Then National took power and…

              “The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance (the Commission) has achieved a high success rate in terms of the number of its proposals which the Government has taken aboard. The Government has altered the composition of the Auckland Council and, as we signalled last week, has made changes at the ‘second tier’ level of representation. But most of the Commission’s design has been accepted. “

            • High Flying Duck

               /  April 6, 2018

              I disagree with plenty the Nats did. I just happen to agree with much of what the lefty posters here get so worked up about.
              I also think they needed to be voted out to get rid of some lingering arrogance and entitlement that was setting in.
              I’m now enjoying watching Jacinda do such a stand up job. As long as they don’t get around to any actual legislation everything is golden.

              Now feel free to step up with how “fact free” my assertion is about Helen Clark getting the whole Super City rolling?

            • phantom snowflake

               /  April 6, 2018

              You have produced no evidence that Helen Clark or “Labour” supported the establishment of the Super City. That Clark/Labour supported some sort of local government reform was never in dispute. You make a false claim:”putting in place the Royal Commission to set up the Super City” whereas:
              The objectives of the Commission’s inquiry, as set out in its terms of reference, were to receive representations on, inquire into, investigate, and report on the local government arrangements (including institutions, mechanisms, and processes) that are required in the Auckland region over the foreseeable future in order to maximise,
              in a cost effective manner,—
              (a) the current and future well-being of the region and its communities; and
              (b) the region’s contribution to wider national objectives and outcomes.

              https://www.parliament.nz/resource/0000075891

              It’s becoming tiresome that you continue to confuse being open to local government reform with supporting National/Rodney Hide’s Super City model. I have no more time for this foolishness.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  April 6, 2018

              You’re dancing on the head of a pin. Clark was a supporter of a Super City. National implemented the regime recommended by the Commission she set up specifically for this purpose.

              Finding quotes from 2006 isn’t easy, but there is enough to show that Labour were in favour of the Super City.

              Prime Minister Helen Clark and Finance Minister Michael Cullen, long-time supporters of some sort of Auckland ‘‘super city’’, are reserving
              their positions. Clark had initially said that more competence at a regional
              level would produce financial efficiencies and offer more scope to invest in a lot of big-picture projects.
              She added that the issue was about recognising that Auckland was ‘‘on the cusp of either going all the way to being a metro region of scale, or lapsing back and muddling along’’.
              http://media.apn.co.nz/webcontent/document/pdf/Project_Auckland_feature_Tueday_21_November.pdf

              Michael Cullen:

              Finance Minister Michael Cullen is keen on Auckland evolving towards a single city, but says it is not something the Government can impose on the region.

              Speaking at the Herald’s Mood of the Boardroom business briefing yesterday, Dr Cullen and National finance spokesman John Key supported the concept of a single city but said local government reform would be difficult.

              The drive to make Auckland a world-class city, soaring rates and cross-border squabbles on everything from transport to funding the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra have re-ignited interest in the super-city concept for Auckland.

              Dr Cullen said he would like to see a mechanism under which Auckland could evolve towards a single vision and a single approach, because it did not make sense from a Government perspective to be dealing with five or six local authorities.

              “There is always the risk they may veer off in different directions when you just come to the crunch on key issues. It is hard to see how we can create a vision for a world-class city, because what we have got is five non-world-class cities.”

              http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10395300

    • David

       /  April 6, 2018

      “The national government has been running a ponzi scam for years”

      The entire social welfare system is a ponzi scheme.

      • Blazer

         /  April 6, 2018

        not to mention…housing.

        • David

           /  April 6, 2018

          Housing isn’t, however price increases are dependent on increasing demand for a restricted supply.

          • Blazer

             /  April 6, 2018

            if you regard housing as homes for people to live in instead as an investment commodity ,one can see the present situation is indeed a ..ponzi.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  April 6, 2018

              If you regard housing as homes for people to live in instead as an investment commodity it cannot possible be seen as a Ponzi scheme.
              “Investment.” is an essential component of a Ponzi…

            • Blazer

               /  April 6, 2018

              I’m talking reality…..’investing’ in a Ponzi scheme,usually ends in tears…eventually.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 6, 2018

              It’s not a ponzi scheme. It is a govt created supply shortage unlikely to be corrected by sane regulatory reform any time soon. The usual gift to the wealthy and penalty to the poor created by idiot Lefties claiming to be doing the opposite.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  April 6, 2018

            There is nothing like a Ponzi scheme here. Look up what these are.

            • Gezza

               /  April 6, 2018

              By the time I got to this one I realised I’d totally forgotten what PG’s post was about. Again. How does that happen? Was Blazer involved?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  April 7, 2018

              Yes, He and ? seem to see a Ponzi scheme in government spending, which I doubt.

              The posts went on so long that anyone would lose track.

  4. david in aus

     /  April 6, 2018

    The previous CEO and CFO of Middlemore resigned last year. There have been concerns on the level of spending on non-essential buildings and one-off gains counted as income.
    The new educational centre was costing them >17 million per year and they were planning to extend the lecture theatre, computer rooms etc.

    They should have used the money for core buildings and health services.
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/93983848/counties-manukau-health-reviewing-its-175m-innovation-hub-cancels-events

    Most of Middlemore’s buildings are very new.
    Many leaking buildings appears to those built in the last decade: Scott Building, Kidz First, SuperClinic Complex and the McIndoe Building.

    This looks like a leaking building story and mismanagement, but it is being used way of attacking general health funding.

    Interesting that the Left was pushing this line as a distraction to the government woes and the next minute we see a newspaper editorial. The “preparation” of the electorate for new tax-and-spend policies are about to start.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  April 6, 2018

      No David it is cut and dried.. I mean the evidence is damning:

      – “Many National MP’s are said to quietly blame”
      – “Many are disappointed that …”
      – “Others have said that…”

      Once you listen to “many” and “others” it is clear it is all National’s fault, whether they were told or not & whether the DHB reprioritised funding to other areas and neglected maintenance.
      As long as you ignore what actually happened, it is definitely Coleman’s fault.

    • david in aus

       /  April 6, 2018

      I can predict Jacinda’s future lines (lies).

      -“We were unable to keep the promises of no tax increases because we were left with a decaying health sector left by the last government. The option was to let sick NZers suffer or make those who could afford to, pay more….. the cupboard was bare”

      All manufactured stories and lines.

      • PartisanZ

         /  April 6, 2018

        I seem to remember Rogered Douglas speaking very similar lines (lies) …

        “All manufactured stories and lines” too?

  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  April 6, 2018

    Who designed and built these buildings? Why doesn’t the media ask the obvious questions?

  6. I was of the (obviously mistaken) belief that the running of the hospital was the job of the DHB and not the Health Minister.
    How many boutique projects were carried out using the funds that should have been used to update buildings ?

    • PDB

       /  April 6, 2018

      Shhh – that isn’t the narrative the govt wants to project in order to increase tax to cover their financial hole.

      • PartisanZ

         /  April 6, 2018

        Maxwell Smart – “The old shock tactic trick again eh? Third time I’ve been caught by it this lifetime”

        Worked for Rogered Douglas …

        Worked for Ruthanasia Richardson …

        Can it work in reverse, to restore more decency to our society?

        Can it work for the common good, rather than for some dubious, questionable, mythical and delusional ideology or ‘indoctrinology’* of “rational self-interest” … now proven by its works to be fatefully flawed …

        * new word # 152