Mayor thanks Reti over new hospital

Dunedin mayor Jules Radich says the city council expects the new hospital will proceed as promised, despite the new health minister’s unwillingness to reaffirm National’s pre-election pledge.

A letter sent by Mr Radich to Dr Shane Reti at the start of the month did not challenge his vague public stance since taking office.

It thanked him for advocating completion of the project with the services and facilities agreed on before the Labour government announced $90million worth of design cuts in December 2022.

"That endorsement triggered the previous government to increase their commitment and led to multi-party support," the letter said.

Mr Radich said he was looking forward to working with the new government this year, highlighting the new Dunedin hospital as an area of particular interest.

As construction progressed it was a great talking point around the town, and a project the wider southern region was enthusiastic about.

Mr Radich told the ODT earlier this week he saw no evidence of any holdback on the project.

Work continues on the new Dunedin hospital yesterday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Work continues on the new Dunedin hospital yesterday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
"I see no benefit in demanding a reconfirmation of government’s stated intentions — such demands might be seen as party politically motivated," Mr Radich said.

"I wrote the letter in a spirit of positivity to confirm our collective satisfaction from seeing the hospital structure rising from the ground and to signal our expectation that the project will proceed as planned and promised."

National pledged to reinstate $30 million to the new hospital build if elected last July.

This would not cover the loss of the planned staff-focused pavilion building or the interprofessional learning centre, but would fund the previously cut beds, operating theatres, and New Zealand’s first publicly owned PET scanner.

However, Dr Reti refused to confirm the promised changes would go ahead when asked by the ODT last month, and has also been vague on when he will visit Dunedin.

He said the National-led coalition government was committed to the hospital, and he would have further discussions with Health New Zealand Te Whatu Ora and ministerial colleagues in the coming weeks.

Dr Reti’s office said there were no updates when questioned further by the ODT earlier this week.