Contingency funding released for pandemic-related hospital design change

Contingency funding for the $1.47billion new Dunedin Hospital project has already been drawn upon, to fund changes to the design for pandemic planning.

Grey Power Otago president Jo Millar, a consumer representative on the clinical leadership group advising the Ministry of Health on the project, recently wrote to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to say that building’s designers had, appropriately, committed to providing a dedicated "pandemic zone" in the building.

"This is a clear change in scope to what was originally costed," Mrs Millar said.

"However, there has been no additional funding for this within the new Dunedin Hospital budget."

The pandemic zone required separation of services, additional ventilation and supply of gases, and dedicated areas for care of patients of infected patients.

Mrs Millar said SDHB staff had already had to consider compromises to ensure pandemic planning and hospital planning fit within the original budget, but the new hospital clearly had to be rethought and recosted in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic which had arrived after the start of the project.

Mrs Millar’s letter was referred to the health ministry, and its acting deputy director-general for infrastructure, Karen Mitchell, said the project’s executive steering group had considered it during its October meeting.

"At that meeting it was unanimously decided to apply contingency funding to accommodate the cost of the pandemic response measures."

Mrs Millar said she was pleased with the outcome and that common sense had prevailed.

Meanwhile, tenders have closed for the main contractor and facade contractor work and structural steel supply for the new Dunedin Hospital’s outpatient building.

"The ministry is happy with the responses received for our current tenders," a spokeswoman said.

They were being evaluated and it was anticipated a decision would be announced in the new year.

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