New Dunedin Hospital training centre axed

Prof Helen Nicholson
Prof Helen Nicholson
The new Dunedin Hospital has suffered another blow with a decision to junk the planned Interprofessional Learning Centre regarded as a crucial part of project.

The $50 million training centre had been envisaged as a partnership between the University of Otago, the Southern District Health Board and Otago Polytechnic and key to the hospital's function as a teaching hospital.

It was announced this afternoon by Te Whatu Ora/Health New Zealand, the university and Te Pūkenga (New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology) that the centre will not go ahead.

A cost blowout from $50m to $130m was cited as the key reason for the decision which follows $90 million of design cutbacks to the hospital last December.

University of Otago acting vice-chancellor Professor Helen Nicholson said the university was disappointed the centre could not go ahead.

“Long term the University’s ambition for the future training of health professionals in Dunedin still includes an interprofessional learning facility,” she said.

Pete Hodgson
Pete Hodgson
Te Whatu Ora chief executive Fepulea'i Margie Apa said losing the centre "would not impact or compromise the training for students and our staff.  Our trainee doctors, nurses and other health practitioners will still continue to have the advantage of clinical placements on-site at the new Dunedin Hospital".

Pete Hodgson, chairman of the New Dunedin Hospital Local Advisory Group, wrote last year that the centre would be built before the main inpatients building.

"The inpatients building simply cannot open without a functional professional development unit for clinicians; it would be unsafe."

Labour MPs David Clark, Ingrid Leary, Rino Tirikatene and Rachel Brooking said earlier this year the city should be "a lot more concerned" about the centre than the hospital's design changes.

"We are very keen that the interprofessional learning centre is approved and funded by our university, polytech and the health system."

Dr Clark said the centre was important for the future of healthcare and he wanted to ensure it would go ahead.

There was no reason to doubt it would not be delivered as planned, he told the ODT in April.