Nurses worry shelled areas will be repurposed

A demand for space at the new Dunedin hospital could hinder the rollout of facilities cut on the promise of future instalment, nurses say.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) is calling for the Government to be upfront about the impact the $90 million worth of design changes will have on patient care, and plans to ramp up its call to reverse the cuts.

Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand said some shell space — areas earmarked for a certain purpose but not fitted out — would be used until there was demand for their original purpose.

However, this was not expected to cause problems, and the new facility would meet community and regional needs, it said.

In addition to approving an extra $110 million in funding in December, the Government announced $9 0million in design changes to address a $200 million budget blowout.

This includes shelling 12 beds, three operating theatres and two scanners, to be delivered at a later date.

NZNO southern delegate Linda Smillie said shelling constituted cuts as it meant the facilities and equipment agreed to in the detailed business case would not be delivered when the inpatient facility opened.

Furthermore, there was a lack of detail available about how shell space would be treated, she said.

Given space was currently in high demand, NZNO was "extremely concerned" areas earmarked for future facilities and equipment would be repurposed.

"The shell spaces must remain empty so that the functions and equipment that they are earmarked for can easily and quickly be installed when required.

"Clinical use of these areas for other purposes has the potential to cause delay and increase costs when returning the areas to their expected use."

Comments made by Local Advisory Group chairman Pete Hodgson earlier this month that most design changes would not impact care, were "not reassuring".

The Government needed to be "upfront and transparent" about the changes that would have an impact, she said.

A petition launched by the NZNO calling on the cuts to be reversed has been signed by more than 3000 people online via, and about 1000 written signatures have also been received.

The organisation was pleased with the response given it had not been actively promoting the petition.

"We wanted to give the new cabinet and health minister time to re-evaluate the previous decision making.

"Now that it is clear that the announced cuts are to continue, we will be ramping up our campaign again with new posters and actions in the coming weeks."

Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand delivery of infrastructure and investment group director Monique Fouwler said some shell space would be used temporarily.

The exact amount was not yet known.

"We do not anticipate this causing any issues in the future."

The shell spaces for additional beds and theatres would be used for work space, equipment storage and clinical engineering until there was demand for the areas to be used for their underlying purpose, she said.

"We will proactively plan for relocating these functions in the future as we continue to develop our health precinct in Dunedin."

The shell spaces to be left empty were those with special purposes such as for radiological equipment, which could not be used for anything else in the interim.

The people of Dunedin would get a state-of-the-art, fit-for-purpose facility, she said.

"These changes will not impact the delivery of health services now and will meet the health needs of the local community and wider region in the future."