Mayors ponder hospital campaign

Otago's mayors are considering whether to support the Dunedin City Council's campaign for a central-city hospital, although at least one has already identified a caveat to any support.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull last week wrote to Otago local bodies seeking support for the Dunedin Hospital SOS campaign.

Specifically, he asked that they write to the Government expressing support for Dunedin's new hospital to be built in the city's centre.

The city council wants the new hospital in the central city to maintain what it says are vital links between the University of Otago and the teaching hospital and to maintain the city centre's vibrancy.

So far the Otago Regional Council has given its support and its chairman Stephen Woodhead will write to the Prime Minister about it, although some councillors said they would prefer to see a business case before fully supporting a central-city location.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said yesterday he supported a central-city hospital, but not if it affected services in the rest of the province.

``I don't want to understate the importance of good services that do have to be centralised in Dunedin.

``They need to make sure that they are not trying to centralise services that actually can be delivered more efficiently out in the regions - that's a mistake that has been made in the past. We've had the ability to do some services more efficiently here and that hasn't happened. It all ties into the review of services for Oamaru.

``The relevance to that in the rebuild is making sure the facility is suited, that they're not trying to build everything in there and then not trying to deliver everything from the centre.

``Where I'm particularly wary is that in the past, you had a lot of empire-building in Dunedin, and that has meant that some of the things that we should and could be doing here haven't been done here.

``We're after an effective and efficient health system and that's what they need to be focused on, not just where they build a new building.''

He would discuss the request with councillors before responding.

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said he had forwarded Mr Cull's request for support to councillors and they would discuss it at a workshop tomorrow before confirming what support to provide.

Mr Cadogan said he was personally in favour of retaining Dunedin's hospital and world-class teaching facility in Dunedin, both for the benefits it provided to Central Otago residents as well as to those in Dunedin and elsewhere in Otago.

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said the council was considering its response. It was likely the decision would not require consultation with the full council.

Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said he would personally support Mr Cull. He had not had a chance to run the letter or request past the council, but would likely send a draft letter of support past councillors and get a final letter sent as soon as possible.

Having a strong hospital in central Dunedin was important for the Clutha community as well, he said.




First question: Why has the council got involved in something which is a government decision?
From Mayor Cull: No reply. Merely a statement at length of the view of the DCC.