Hutt Hospital's main building earthquake prone

Source: 1News

Hutt Hospital is looking at how to remove patients and services from its main building after it was declared earthquake prone.

A seismic assessment found the hospital's Heretaunga Block would be earthquake prone under the law.

"The work that would be required to remediate the building would disrupt patient care. Instead, we will be looking at how we can move patients and services out of the building as well as examining what alternative arrangements might work for our communities," Hutt Valley DHB and Capital & Coast DHB chief executive Fionnagh Dougan said on Tuesday.

Dougan said the DHBs will be working with the Ministry of Health, as well as the interim Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority.

"We will also consult and engage with staff and providers and the Hutt Valley Board will recommend to the interim agencies that they prioritise any alternative in a way that ensures that the Hutt Valley community continues to have access to quality, safe and equitable health care," she said.

In the meantime, Dougan said services will continue to be delivered from the Heretaunga Block as the risk posed to people is considered low.

Hutt Valley DHB told 1News this afternoon that "certainly" the Board Chair and several other Board members would have been briefed as to the buildings' situation "during their committee duties in April", while other Board members may have learned of the situation later on, and some may well have only learned about it on 13 May 2022.

But, only today has the DHB decided to go public with this information. They're now working through how to allocate services out of the building, which they say will be a gradual process.

This information comes just two days after around 13,000 kiwis felt a 4.7 magnitude earthquake on Sunday morning.

While the "moderate" quake was centred 25km west of Paraparaumu, it was felt as far as Auckland and Southland.

Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry said he was alarmed by the news the block has seismic issues.

"I want to be absolutely clear: today we have learned the main building at Hutt Hospital will close, and there are absolutely no plans to rebuild or remediate the site to secure health services into the future.

"Once beds, specialist services, and staff leave the Hutt for elsewhere, I'm deeply concerned they may never come back. Today may well represent the long-term removal of tertiary health services in the Hutt Valley."

Barry is calling on the Government and Health New Zealand to commit to a full rebuild at the site.

He said in a statement he would be "relentless in pursuing" these authorities and would "fight tooth and nail" to ensure the hospital's future is secured.

The Heretaunga Block is home to 210 physical bed spaces - reportedly 79% of Hutt Hospital's beds.

The main building reportedly makes up 25% of the overall hospital bed capacity in the region.

Health Minister Andrew Little said a move would be done to make sure patients still got the healthcare they need.

"This will obviously have an impact on other parts of the health system, and the DHB is working with the Ministry of Health, Interim Health New Zealand, the Māori Health Authority and Capital and Coast DHB to minimise this."