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New Zealand increases funding for ICU capacity expansion

IANS | December 03, 2021 11:37 AM

WELLINGTON: The New Zealand government has increased funding to expand intensive care-type services, with plans to spend hundreds of millions of New Zealand dollars, Health Minister Andrew Little said on Friday.

"Through good planning, we have avoided what the Covid-19 pandemic has done in some countries, where hospitals have been over-run, " Little said in a statement, Xinhua news agency reported.

He said the ICU facilities have remained available for every person needing that level of care, whether they have Covid-19 or something else.

"We've got about 100 ICU beds in Auckland alone and the ability to surge to 550 ICU-type beds across the country if we need to, far more than we are likely to need in the near future, " the minister said.

He added that district health boards have been asked to identify ways of increasing intensive-care capacity within six months, such as projects to convert unused wards.

Cabinet has earmarked 100 million NZ dollars ($67.99 million) in capital funding from the Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund to accelerate these ICU projects, and there are another 544 million NZ dollars ($369.88 million) of operational funding available to fund ongoing costs like staffing, Little said.

The first hospitals to receive money from this fund are those of North Shore, Tauranga and Christchurch, he said.

Also this week, the government has approved funds for a new six-bed ICU facility at Waitakere Hospital in Henderson, Auckland, along with two negative-pressure rooms and a new 30-bed ward.

"This will be the first ICU facility at Waitakere Hospital, " Little said.

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