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PM announces $100m to replace Henry Bennett Centre

By: Gurbir Singh

The Government has approved funding for a new acute mental health facility for Waikato which will provide better care and support to people with mental health and addiction issues.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister David Clark announced the $100 million project to replace the aging Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre during a visit to the Waikato Hospital in Hamilton this afternoon.

This new facility is expected to have capacity for an extra 10-20 more beds. Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre was opened in the 1990s and risks losing its accreditation, according to the Waikato District Health Board.

PM
PM flanked by Health Minister, David Clark & List MP, Jamie Strange

“This Government has made taking mental health seriously a priority since day one,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“It’s important New Zealanders can access the mental health and addiction services they need at an early stage. That’s why we’re building new frontline services as part of our record investment in mental health and addiction.

“Having the right facilities that support people’s treatment and recovery is also a key part of our plan.

“The current Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre is no longer fit for purpose. It’s outdated and does not provide the right environment to support a focus on recovery and mental wellbeing for patients, despite the hard work by dedicated staff.

“A new purpose built facility will provide a modern environment with patient and whānau centred spaces,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Health Minister, David Clark says it’s important our mental health and addiction facilities are not only purpose-built, but they also need to meet the growing demand for services.

“Over the last nine years, there’s been a 72 percent increase in people seen by Waikato DHB’s mental health and addiction services. Each month, there are nearly 100 admissions to the Henry Rongomau Bennet Centre, which has 53 beds.

“Today’s announcement gives the Waikato DHB the greenlight to push ahead with its planning and development of its indicative business case,” David Clark said.

Karen Poutasi (Waikato DHB Commissioner) with Jamie Strange & David Clark

Planning and design work continues alongside the business case development. The indicative business case is expected to be complete early next year, followed by the detailed business case in early 2021. Funding is subject to approval of the final business case. Grounds works are expected to start in 2022, with the facility due to open in 2023.

Today’s announcement is the latest in a growing list of investments the Labour Government has made in hospitals and other health facilities.