Frustration in audience at hospital rebuild meeting

Dunedin Hospital rebuild representatives (from left) SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming, Southern Partnership Group chairman Andrew Blair, SPG member and deputy commissioner Richard Thomson, Ministry of Health critical projects director Michael Hundleby,
Dunedin Hospital rebuild representatives (from left) SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming, Southern Partnership Group chairman Andrew Blair, SPG member and deputy commissioner Richard Thomson, Ministry of Health critical projects director Michael Hundleby, and clinical leadership group chairman Dr David Perez. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Public frustration over the delay-ridden Dunedin Hospital rebuild was evident at a meeting in Dunedin last night.

About 120 people attended an information night organised by the Ministry of Health and Southern District Health Board at Otago Museum's Hutton Theatre.

Speeches by SDHB commissioner Kathy Grant, chief executive Chris Fleming, and rebuild boss Andrew Blair focused more on conceptual themes about future healthcare trends than the build itself.

Mr Blair explained the size and site of the build had not been determined. It could be built on multiple sites around Dunedin. It would be completed in 2022 at the earliest, and 2025 at the latest.

Speeches took 45 minutes of the meeting's allotted hour, but Mr Blair granted an extra 15 minutes for people's questions - and there were many.

To claps and cheers, retired medical school dean Graham Mortimer said he had not heard anything from the rebuild representatives about Dunedin's ''greatest strength'' - teaching and research at the medical school. He was concerned the possible splitting of the hospital into separate sites would be difficult for clinician-academics.

Mr Blair said the University of Otago was closely involved with the project.

Dunedin North MP David Clark criticised the series of delays in the project, saying the business case could end up being four years later than promised.

Mr Blair said he was appointed chairman of the Southern Partnership Group 18 months ago, and could not focus on ''former delays''.

Dr Clark asked Mr Blair to commit to retaining Dunedin Hospital as a level-six grade tertiary hospital, a question Dunedin South MP Clare Curran also raised when Mr Blair did not directly answer.

However, assurances were given that services provided now, such as neurosurgery and cardiac surgery, would still be offered in the new hospital.

Ms Curran said there was ''a lot of frustration in the audience'' about the ''vague and non-specific'' information being given.

She asked about a new assessment of the ward block, and whether the cost of the project would rise if that building needed to be replaced, as well as the clinical services building. The cost matters, because the health board has to pay tens of millions of dollars in capital charges on the finance each year.

Mr Blair said the rebuild group had received a new report on the ward block, ''challenging the notion'' it could be refurbished.

Emergency department specialist Dr John Chambers said he was worried the new hospital would have too few beds. At present, the hospital did not have enough, and sometimes patients suffered through delays in surgery and treatment.

Chief medical officer Dr Nigel Millar said there was also a risk of supplying too many beds, and if they were there, they might be used unnecessarily.

Disabled Persons Assembly representative Chris Ford was assured disabled people would be involved in the design phase.

eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

Comments

'Chief medical officer Dr Nigel Millar said there was also a risk of supplying too many beds, and if they were there, they might be used unnecessarily.' Ha Ha Ha!
This would be the joke of year if it wasn't so serious. Does he not have enough confidence in the professional staff to judge when a patient should be in hospital or not?

Dr Millar says there shouldn't be too many beds because they might be used! What, the hospital might actually treat patients! Amazing.

It is hard to believe the entire hospital replacement process isn't being used as a giant con on the people of Dunedin. 18 months of over paid committee members and consultants but we are supposed to believe that nothing has been decided. Apart from of course the need to keep these spongers hanging off the public cash teat for longer.

Fewer beds, fewer treatments, more travel to Christchurch and beyond. Are they really just waiting until after the election to tell us the truth?

Mr Cull is dripping and complaining that having a hospital departments away from the city and spread out in different areas. I hear you bleating -wake up .If the hospital is reduced in size then it is you, the Greens on your council who a distorying Dunedin and fellow Councillors fault who will not speak up nobody else. It is you Mr Cull that wants to keep Dunedin small and is restricting its growth doesn't want new businesses here, so why would a Government waste coin in building a big hospital with lots of beds when you want a small town. Anyhow whats the worst thing that can happen from Gigatown accident, maybe a paper cut or a stapled finger and that doesn't justify a large hospital