Another hospital rebuild setback

David Clark.
David Clark.
Uncertainty about the size of the Dunedin Hospital rebuild appears to have forced the Ministry of Health to delay a plan to gauge private sector interest in taking a stake in it.

A ''market sounding'' for a public-private partnership (PPP) was pencilled in for April-May in a hospital rebuild schedule.

When the Otago Daily Times first asked if it was going ahead, rebuild boss Andrew Blair said it was.

''Yes, a market sounding is taking place, as we indicated would happen,'' he said in an email.

But when pressed for details, a ministry spokeswoman revealed it had been put off.

''The delay is so we can give the market a clearer picture of what we are progressing.

''We have recently made the decision to delay the market sounding until after decisions are made on what options will be progressed from the indicative business case into the detailed business case.''

The shape of the project is unknown. The ministry cannot say if the ward block, the biggest hospital building, will be replaced.

Labour health spokesman Dr David Clark said the PPP delay was probably because the ministry had not worked out what it was rebuilding.

''It suggests that they really haven't got their heads around what has to happen.

''It looks again like timelines are slipping and a normal process isn't being followed. This is more bad news for those hoping for a full and timely rebuild.''

The specially-appointed ''Southern Partnership Group'', established 18 months ago to take over the governance of the delay-ridden project, had made little progress, Dr Clark suggested.

''It shows that for the Government this is not the priority that they say it is. If it was a priority, they would have the resources in there.

''We have been faced with years of delays and a failure to commit to getting on with the build.''

Labour supported controversial PPPs, to a point, but only if they were appropriate for the circumstances, he said.

PPPs involve the private sector taking a financial stake in a public asset or project.

Private financing of public hospital builds has been widely used in the United Kingdom, where it was criticised across the political spectrum as far too costly.

Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman released a short statement that did not directly address the issue.

''We're progressing well with the largest hospital rebuild in New Zealand's history in Canterbury and the new West Coast Hospital is now under way.

''Our attention is on Dunedin Hospital as its redevelopment is the next big project and it's progressing well,'' Dr Coleman said.

According to the rebuild schedule, the indicative business case is to be completed in the middle of this year, and the detailed business case by the middle of next year.



So after 18 months or more of prevarication, hundreds of thousands wasted on consultants and assorted spongers, we have the ministry admitting they haven't got a clue what they are doing.

It is hard to imagine all the spongers are completely inept. So the only real possibility is we have a government so scared of public reaction to their plans they simply will not allow them to be released prior to the election?

Come on Mr Minister. Tell us what the plans are. Your silence proves I am right, you are simply too scared to tell the truth.

We've given Government the benefit of the doubt, and tried not to make a fuss, as Hilary advised us to, and this is the presentation. Not sure, private sector blah, delay, size blah.

They play this game. I looked at the new Greymouth (very small hospital) - the main beams of its structure are rusting and the building not built. Look at the south end. You will get similar cutbacks and an undersized pretend hospital - and ship out to Christchurch like they do here.

What an utter farce. Wasted time and money and no sign of any decisions. How can so many people take so long to achieve nothing? The whole process needs a giant cattle prod.

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