New hospital: DCC's $130k plan to fight design cuts

David Benson-Pope
David Benson-Pope
The Dunedin City Council is to consider approving a war chest of up to $130,400 to fight design cuts to the city's new hospital.

A notice of motion brought by city councillor David Benson-Pope, and seconded by Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich, ahead of next week's council meeting asks the council to fund a public campaign up to $130,400 and to seek funding from other sources.

This would be to support the new Dunedin Hospital being built to the specifications in the final detailed business case approved by the Cabinet and to make clear the council "will not accept changes that reduce the long-term capacity of the new Dunedin Hospital, or that compromise in any way the clinical services available to residents of the city and the wider region".

If the motion is approved, the council will seek the commitment of all parties in Parliament to adequately fund the construction project and engage with "stakeholders" to support this advocacy position.

Construction of the hospital in the central city has been under budgetary pressure.

Facing increased costs, the Government boosted the project budget by $110 million and curbed further spending with $90 million of design savings.

There would be 398 beds upon opening the inpatients building, rather than 410, but space would be set aside for 12 more.

The number of operating theatres would be cut from 28 to 26, but space would be allowed for two more.

The hospital would have two MRI scanners instead of three, but space would be set aside for an additional MRI.

A PET CT scanner would be installed later.

The inpatients building is now not due to be finished until 2029, a year later than had been planned.

Health Minister Andrew Little, supported by Dunedin MP Dr David Clark and Taieri MP Ingrid Leary, has said "there are no cuts" to the new hospital, emphasising increased capacity compared with the city's existing hospital.

Dr Clark has said capacity increases were in some cases significant, such as boosting the number of operating theatres from 16 to 26.

However, Te Whatu Ora has said a non-clinical pavilion building will not go ahead as planned.

A link bridge between the inpatient and outpatient buildings has been dropped from plans.

The national nurses' union condemned design changes and the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists warned working conditions at the new hospital could take a step back.

National list MP Michael Woodhouse has said party loyalty should not get in the way of Ms Leary and Dr Clark advocating for "the hospital that was promised".