Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

27 February 2020

Sarah Courtney, Minister for Health

No compromise on patient services

In the interest of keeping the community informed I announce today that Tasmania’s largest ever health infrastructure project, the $689 million RHH redevelopment has been delayed in the final stages of practical completion.

My advice is K-Block is currently not to the standard required, so we will not be taking possession from the contractor John Holland Fairbrother until this situation is rectified.

Patients will only receive health care in K-Block when it is certified safe, and staff are ready and able to deliver services in the new state-of-the-art facility.

I fully acknowledge the ongoing pressure across the Royal Hobart Hospital, and I am disappointed at this delay as I am sure the staff at the hospital are, and many others.

We will not compromise on staff or patient safety and comfort.

Large hospital buildings need to meet the most stringent requirements and have complex communications, electrical, mechanical, hydraulic and fire services systems that require integrated commissioning, testing and certification. We are awaiting receipt of the final outstanding documentation to verify compliance.

Although rectification of minor defects is anticipated after Practical Completion, there are currently two main issues of concern that require further investigation and rectification work by the builder.

Several areas have recorded higher than acceptable noise levels coming from the air-conditioning and filtration units.

Some have already been fixed and we are awaiting advice from the builder regarding which areas have yet to be rectified and the works or system adjustments necessary to rectify it.

For major construction projects, air circulation systems are usually one of the final systems to be tested. This is because prior to final air flow testing all other works must be complete and air circulation pathways clear.

We will continue to work with the builder to resolve those outstanding issues.

While I’m pleased to say most of the results taken from comprehensive water sampling in K-Block have been within the recommendations of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, the builder is continuing to flush the plumbing and water quality testing is ongoing, with a management plan to be implemented.

The RHH staff are continuing to prepare for occupancy now with recruitment also underway.

We’ll continue to do all we can to support patient flow through the hospital and to support our staff, who are working in a challenging environment and facing high levels of demand.

Commissioning K-Block as soon as possible will improve patient services by delivering 44 beds initially, more operating and procedure rooms and contemporary amenity.

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