Doctors, Grey Power sound warnings on hospital build

Doctors and Grey Power have challenged the Government to build a hospital in Dunedin up to the standard the city needs.

Their warnings came ahead of key figures in the hospital project preparing to run a public forum today.

The Government’s cuts to the design of the hospital have been contentious and several Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand speakers are due to present an update at Otago Museum’s Hutton Theatre from 5pm.

Senior surgical trainee at Dunedin Hospital Dr Janet Rhodes told the Dunedin City Council yesterday building the new hospital to inadequate capacity would be expensive to recover from.

Offering her personal view, Dr Rhodes said failing to invest in appropriate sizing of the hospital would be a poor use of resources.

In the long run, the hospital might become clogged, she said.

The council is running a campaign against the Government’s cuts.

The council chamber yesterday featured a series of "they save, we pay" posters and councillors wore T-shirts with the phrase.

The Dunedin City Council takes a stand, protesting the Government’s cuts to the design of the...
The Dunedin City Council takes a stand, protesting the Government’s cuts to the design of the city’s new hospital. Councillors are (from left) Lee Vandervis, Bill Acklin, David Benson-Pope, Andrew Whiley, Christine Garey, Steve Walker, Marie Laufiso, Mayor Jules Radich, Mandy Mayhem, Jim O’Malley, Carmen Houlahan, Sophie Barker and Kevin Gilbert. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The Government has been facing an enduring backlash since it announced late last year a $200 million cost escalation would be dealt with by boosting the project budget by $110 million and achieving "savings" of $90 million related to the design.

Former Southern District Health Board member Dr John Chambers said the cuts had generated an outcry.

Dr Chambers did not believe the final detailed business case approved by the Cabinet in 2021 would be revived, but said there might still be a chance to get back "some of those square metres" lost.

Grey Power Otago president Jo Millar said the hospital should proceed as it was originally designed.

People had been told by politicians the new hospital would be state-of-the-art, she said.

Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich said the council’s campaign was receiving broad support.

"I’m seeing and hearing from a community that feels dismissed by decision-makers in Wellington."