Tauranga Hospital’s Acute Mental Health Inpatient unit will be upgraded to ensure improvements are in place as soon as possible for tāngata whaiora (service users), whānau and staff.
Earlier this month the Minister of Health, Dr Ayesha Verrall, approved a business case that recommended an immediate upgrade as the most effective solution to the patient and staff safety issues identified at the unit.
A plan to replace the facility had previously been announced. However, the future of the wider Tauranga Hospital site has since come under review.
Six buildings at Tauranga Hospital are classified as Earthquake Prone, and the area’s population is increasing. As a result, the options for a redevelopment of the entire hospital campus are being considered as part of the Regional Hospital Redevelopment Programme at Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand. As part of this work, a range of master planning options for the hospital will be explored, including the future location of a replacement mental health facility.
“Expert advice is that mental health facilities should be located near other hospital services, whenever possible. Building a replacement mental health facility at the same site would mean the facility would not be within easy reach of other hospital services if Tauranga Hospital did move to a new location,’” said Sarah Mitchell, Acting Interim Hospital and Specialist Services Lead, Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty.
Mitchell said the upgrade means a replacement facility can be considered once the future of the Tauranga Hospital site is known.
“We acknowledge the decision not to build a replacement facility now may be disappointing to the community, but it is worth remembering the current facility is relatively new, having been purpose-built in 2001. The upgrade will increase its number of beds from 26 to 29, and address the immediate safety issues identified at the unit,” she said.
The work is expected to be completed in late 2025, and will be done with as little disruption to patients and staff as possible.
“The Mental Health and Addiction services team in Te Whatu Ora Hauora a Toi is dedicated, skilled and knowledgeable in the provision of services to those with specialist mental health and addiction needs. The team remains committed to achieving a replacement facility in the future and in the meantime will continue to provide quality services to the community in an upgraded and enlarged unit.
“We are not willing to delay the important improvements to the unit that are needed while this wider planning work is undertaken.
“Ultimately, the community will be better served by linking the decision-making around mental health infrastructure to the decisions that are yet to be made about where the hospital is sited,” said Mitchell.
In addition to the upgrades planned for the Tauranga facility, there are several projects underway to replace or upgrade mental health facilities across the Te Manawa Taki region (made up of the Waikato, Lakes, Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti and Taranaki regions).
Site works are underway to replace the acute mental health and addiction facilities in Rotorua and Tairāwhiti, while a business case is being prepared for the proposed replacement of the mental health facility at Whakatāne Hospital, as well as to carry out the interim upgrades needed to the current facility.
Phil Murray, Senior Media Advisor
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