Hospital redesign to finish in Sept 2024

An artist’s impression of the new Dunedin hospital after its significant redesign. IMAGE: SUPPLIED
An artist’s impression of the new Dunedin hospital after its significant redesign. IMAGE: SUPPLIED

The contentious redesign of the new Dunedin hospital inpatient building is not set to be completed until September next year, and questions about the building’s floor area remain unanswered.

The Dunedin City Council is leading a campaign against what are now $80 million worth of design cutbacks to the new hospital, and one councillor has criticised the lack of information as "obfuscation".

However, Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand (HNZ) said the inpatient build is still forecast to start early next year.

A HNZ slideshow released under the Official Information Act said the detailed design was due for completion in September 2024, after design work began in September 2022.

The previous design for the former planned inpatient building was stopped in November 2022 at 75% completion, due to the forecast project cost.

The slideshow was dated February 15, a week after HNZ failed to specify a time the design would be complete in response to questions by the Otago Daily Times.

At the time, HNZ said the design was in the preliminary stage and would "continue to be developed".

David Benson-Pope. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
David Benson-Pope. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Cr David Benson-Pope said the timeframe was not surprising given the size and specifications of the build were substantially changed.

He was most interested in the loss of total floor area, given changes such as the removal of the pavilion building, an associated building and suggestions pathology could happen off site.

"We have asked the area question formally and informally and [HNZ] has not yet been able to provide that information.

"What would you make of obfuscation like that?"

A HNZ spokeswoman confirmed the project team was on track to complete the detailed design in September 2024 and the inpatient build was still forecast to start in early 2024.

HNZ has previously said the new inpatient building would be larger than under the previous plan, set to accommodate amenities from the lost pavilion building.

Pathology space and psychogeriatric beds were cut back under the new plan, but Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said both would be the subject of investigations, when she was in Dunedin last month to announce $10 million would be put back into the new hospital budget.

Space for pathology services in the building was being independently reviewed, the HNZ spokeswoman said.

The current plan was for acute services to be provided on site, and non-acute services to be provided off site.

"Health planners have been contracted to undertake this review and advise on space requirements, based on the clinical need and benchmarks from New Zealand and Australia.

"An expert clinical group, including local clinicians and laboratory scientists, has also been established to advise and critique the data," the spokeswoman said.

"The review work is expected to be completed by the end of July and it will confirm the optimum space required for on-site and off-site pathology services."

The development of a strategic model of care for psychogeriatric patients across primary, community and secondary settings was important.

"A brief for this work is being developed and the process will include hospital and community clinicians and stakeholders designing a model that meets the needs of older people with serious mental health problems."

National Dunedin list MP Michael Woodhouse said HNZ’s adamant view there would be no further design changes — which he agreed with given the inflationary impact — made "a bit of a mockery" of the review of pathology space.

It also appeared they intended to start inpatient construction several months before the redesign was concluded, suggesting the works would be preliminary and groundwork only.

"You couldn’t make this stuff up.

"It really is a mess."

Mayor Jules Radich could not be reached for comment yesterday.