Starship expansion planned due to increasing pressure

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The intensive care team at Starship is brilliant - capable, empathetic nurses and clinicians, with immense amounts of expertise and knowledge on treating the challenging problems that our children face.

But there’s one thing they can’t fix: a shortage of beds.

Starship has New Zealand’s only dedicated paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) caring for critically ill children from across the country. But there are not enough beds, just 22 to care for 1.25 million children under 16 in New Zealand who may need complex intensive care.

Dr John Beca, Director of Surgical and Intensive Care Services at Starship says; “It’s been 12 years since we last added beds to the Starship’s Paediatric ICU [PICU]. Population growth, combined with changes in care and treatment for our critically sick and injured children, and growing complexity of cases means Starship’s PICU is under ever increasing pressure. Occupancy levels are now critical on average every second day, meaning there are less than two beds available in the unit, and the need to expand is now urgent.”

An expansion plan is set to get underway later this year starting with the addition of ten new intensive care beds before winter 2022, lifting capacity by 45%.  Additional whānau and staff support spaces, and a new medical day stay unit are also part of the redevelopment project which will roll out over two to three years.

Dr Beca says; “This is a major redevelopment at our national children’s hospital which will benefit whānau from right across New Zealand who are facing their toughest times with a child who is seriously unwell or injured. Adding ten intensive care beds will address and future-proof the urgent capacity issue. More whānau support spaces will improve the experience for our families, and additional staff and administration space will ensure we can continue to attract and retain our best and brightest staff to care for our children.”

The Starship Foundation is asking for New Zealanders’ help explains Chief Executive Aisha Daji Punga.

“This is a $40M expansion project so that Starship can continue to provide world class care for our most critically sick and injured children. We are so grateful for the government’s $25M commitment and the Starship Foundation is working hard to raise the extra $15M. With $7M secured in pledges and donations we’re already halfway there,” says Daji Punga.

“Expanding Starship’s PICU is the biggest and most vital fundraising challenge in our history. We urgently need the help of generous New Zealanders to make this happen.”

Donations can be made online at or by contacting the Starship Foundation directly.

Starship is New Zealand’s national children’s hospital with children coming from right across New Zealand for specialist care and treatment only available at Starship. On average there are approximately 1200 admissions to the Starship PICU each year with more than 50% of those being from outside greater Auckland.

For more information please contact:

Jodie Bakewell-White, Starship Foundation
021 709 065

Di Ruela, Starship Foundation
027 522 3969

Our children. Better health. Brighter futures.