Operating theatre put back

Dunedin Hospital's long-awaited ninth operating theatre has been delayed by about two months.

Southern District Health Board said yesterday the previous March timeframe for commissioning the theatre had been ''very optimistic''. Construction began last week. Costing about $1.8 million, the theatre is expected to be ready in May.

It is hoped an additional theatre will reduce patient waiting times for elective and urgent surgery. Patient services executive director Lexie O'Shea said, through a spokeswoman, the delay was partly caused by time spent acquiring critical equipment, such as an air-conditioning system.

''Now that work has started on the site, we expect to have the new theatre completed in 16 weeks.''

The board was on track to meet Government elective surgery targets, Mrs O'Shea said.

This was despite the fact it has also stopped outsourcing work this financial year, in contrast to last year when the practice was blamed for contributing to the board's money woes.

Last May, when it announced the ninth theatre commissioning, the board said it would reduce the need for it to outsource work. Subsequently, however, outsourcing was halted outright, to save money.

''We can confirm that there has been no outsourcing of elective work to date. However, as always, we are monitoring our plans on an ongoing basis,'' Mrs O'Shea said yesterday, through the spokeswoman.

The board said it was not yet ready to release the project's budget, which remained commercially sensitive. Naylor Love is the main contractor for the project.

eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

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