New outpatient building delayed half a year

Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand has confirmed the new Dunedin Hospital Outpatient building is now...
Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand has confirmed the new Dunedin Hospital Outpatient building is now set to be completed by mid 2026. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Health Minister Dr Shane Reti has remained silent on the possibility of a private funding arrangement for the new Dunedin hospital as the project is beset by further construction delays.

The outpatient building is now set to be finished by mid 2026, about half a year later than the previous estimate.

Dr Reti would not be drawn on the causes of the delay and how it would impact costs for the $1.68 billion project when asked by the Otago Daily Times yesterday.

Nor did he comment on whether a public-private partnership was on the table for Dunedin, although the government has previously stated it was considering different funding models to build new hospitals,

Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand (HNZ) Southern’s pushed back completion date of mid 2026 is the second schedule shift for the building in two years. HNZ also did not provide causes for the latest delay, but instead pointed to the scale of the overall project.

Delivery, infrastructure and investment group leader Monique Fouwler said yesterday that large and long-term infrastructure projects were "complex".

The new hospital would be built over a period of seven or eight years.

"The various stages of a build may fluctuate a little, but we have strategies in place to keep the overall project on time."

Once construction of the outpatient building was complete, it would take another two to three months to open, she said.

She did not say how the delay was expected to impact costs, and said the specific budget for the outpatient building was commercially sensitive.

In early June of 2022, HNZ stated the outpatient building was on schedule to open in 2025.

Last year late 2025 was set as the completion date of the building, and HNZ said clinical services would be moved in at the start of 2026.

Meanwhile, the completion date of the inpatient building was pushed back from 2028 to 2029 last year, the delay of nearly one year caused by the previous government’s controversial building redesign aimed at cutting costs by $90 million.

A spokesperson from Dr Reti’s office yesterday said he continued to receive advice on the complex project.

"He looks forward to travelling to Dunedin in the coming weeks to view the project for himself."

Taieri Labour MP Ingrid Leary yesterday dubbed the outpatient building delay "another broken promise by this National-led government to prioritise the new Dunedin Hospital."

This follows Dr Reti’s refusal to state whether National’s promises regarding the hospital made last July will be honoured by the new government.

"Clearly it's not important to this health minister who won’t commit to his additional $30m pre-election promise, or to a PET scanner and won’t be up front about whether the build will be done publicly or privately," she said.

Labour is ideologically opposed to public-private partnerships but National has espoused them in the past.

The National coalition agreement with Act New Zealand commits the government to investigate build and lease-back arrangements with the private sector to build public service infrastructure.

In December, RNZ reported that the government had confirmed it was considering different funding models to build new hospitals, an issue Ms Leary has since raised in parliament.

Ms Leary also criticised Dr Reti yesterday for not yet visiting Dunedin to meet stakeholders.

"When Dr Ayesha Verrall became Health Minister she arrived here day two in the job.

"It’s now four months and Dr Shane Reti is nowhere to be seen."