Dunedin hospital cuts condemned by nurses

The Government has now included nurses, midwives and any specialist doctors not already eligible...
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The national nurses’ union has added to condemnation of design changes to the new Dunedin Hospital, saying staff are being asked to carry the burden of Government cuts.

At least 450 non-clinical spaces have been axed, along with a building housing staff amenities, as part of design changes intended to reduce the cost of the build by $90 million.

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists criticised the changes earlier this week, and said the reduction in space meant staff conditions in the new hospital would be worse than in the current hospital.

Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand (HNZ) said it was committed to the provision of collaborative workspaces, and staff amenities from the pavilion building had been fully incorporated into the new design.

Non-clinical workspaces would be distributed throughout the inpatient building so staff would have them near their clinical area.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) southern delegate Linda Smillie said the number of nursing roles would only increase, and with it the need for non-clinical space.

"The loss of so many work areas will result in staff either choosing to work off site or a constant daily battle to secure a spot."

The loss of the pavilion building was "of great concern" despite assurances its facilities, ranging from a cafeteria to wellbeing rooms, would be retained.

With no corresponding increase in the size of the inpatient building, facilities would be squeezed into spaces that were not designed for them.

"Once again it is the staff that are being asked to carry the burden of government cost-cutting in health."

The changes would make the new hospital a more stressful place to work.

NZNO’s pay parity campaign meant HNZ had lost its pay advantage in attracting new workers.

"The loss of the pavilion building will place us at a disadvantage compared to other employers that can offer a more attractive and supportive workplace."

The cuts to the new hospital were announced last month, and the Government granted $110 million in additional funding to address a $200 million budget blow-out.

However, the remaining $90 million would be saved by design changes to what is now a $1.58 billion project.

Other changes include a reduction in hospital beds to 398, 12 fewer than planned, and fewer operating theatres — 26 rather than 28.

When the hospital opens, likely in 2029, it will have two MRI scanners rather than three, and no PET CT scanner.

Health Minister Andrew Little earlier this week told the Otago Daily Times "there are no cuts to the new Dunedin hospital", pointing to the expanded capacity compared with the current hospital, and the shell space provided for the lost amenities to be installed at a later date.

This was yesterday rejected by Association of Salaried Medical Specialists southern representative Kris Smith, who said it was plain there were cuts.