Low power supply means Auckland Hospital’s new baby unit can’t open

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A new special care unit for babies at Waitākere Hospital has been officially opened, but will not have any patients yet.  (File photo)

Chris McKeen / Stuff

A new special care unit for babies at Waitākere Hospital has been officially opened, but will not have any patients yet. (File photo)

A new Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at Waitākere Hospital has not been opened to patients after it was discovered that the hospital’s power supply was not robust enough to run it.

The new unit was officially opened on June 15 in a ceremony with ministers, staff and stakeholders, but babies and their parents have yet to enter the building.

A spokesperson for Te Whatu Ora, Health New Zealand, said that although it had been “hoped” the unit would be operational by now, work was needed to increase the electricity so that the unit and the rest of the hospital can work together.

“The commissioning process identified the need for the hospital to adjust the distribution boards to ensure robust power supply to all services in the area.”

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The work would be carried out from late July, the spokesperson said, and would help increase the hospital’s electrical capacity.

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For this reason, the spokesperson said it was likely the new unit would not be open to new parents and babies until early August.

“Meanwhile, parents and their babies continue to receive the highest possible standard of care at our existing SCBU facilities at the hospital,” the spokesperson said.

The new unit was part of ongoing improvements to the hospital site to help meet the growing demand for healthcare services in West Auckland.

The old hospital unit had nowhere for parents or carers and families to spend the night – they had to sleep in a family room elsewhere in the hospital or in a nearby marae.

The new SCBU would provide care for up to 18 babies born at 32 weeks gestation or older and requiring specialist care. The old unit could accommodate 12 babies at a time.

The new unit was partially funded by $5 million in community donations through the Well Foundation.

Further upgrades are expected for the hospital, with plans underway to build a new $65 million intensive care unit and 30-bed inpatient ward from the end of 2022.

Earlier this year, a petition was launched by community organization Waitākere Health Link, calling on the Department of Health to commit urgent funding to improve services at the hospital, including more beds and the expansion of the theater .


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