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The Southern District Health Board could outsource more operations as part of plans to fast-track the first stage of the new Dunedin Hospital.
On Friday, it was announced that the first major building in the hospital rebuild, the "Ambulatory Services Building'' for day surgery, would be fast-tracked and opened by 2023.
The SDHB had to start planning how to provide healthcare as services moved from the old site to the new, and as improvements and upgrades to the emergency department were carried out, chief executive Chris Fleming said.
The SDHB already outsources operations to Mercy Hospital in Dunedin and Southern Cross Hospital in Invercargill.
The SDHB would now explore options to improve and increase those relationships as demand required and as work on the new and old buildings required.
"The first point in flexibility is in saying how can we increase how we work with other partners, are there productivity gains that we can make, and can we work in different ways - is it possible to run some of our theatres later in the day,'' Mr Fleming said.
"We are going as extensively as we can, but they equally are constrained by capacity - if there was more physical capacity there at the moment, we would utilise it if we could, but it's not like Dunedin is flush with spare capacity in the private sector.''
As well as relocating day surgery, the SDHB hopes to update and expand its often under-pressure emergency department.
"It is very difficult to add square metreage into the buildings, but there are some opportunities to extend within the existing footprint - but it will be disruptive when we do that,'' Mr Fleming said.
It was also hoped that the SDHB and WellSouth's Primary and Community Care plan would be fully operational by 2023 with community health hubs taking over some of the patients who would now be seen at the hospital, easing pressure on services.
Mr Fleming said planners had considered constructing a smaller building which could be opened sooner, but that was rejected.
"That was ultimately decided to be the wrong way to go, as it would have resulted in a very small operational building in the middle of a construction site.''