A hospital to be proud of

This month I was delighted to be selected as Labour’s 2023 candidate for the Dunedin electorate, following David Clark’s retirement.

It’s a huge honour and responsibility to be selected to stand. I love this place, where I went to kindergarten, school, and university, gave birth to two children, and have spent most of my professional life.

A big issue for many is the new Dunedin hospital. A flagship hospital in Dunedin is important to the whole region, and to the development and training of many of New Zealand’s health professionals.

My relationship to the hospital is also deeply personal. I’ve been treated there when sick, my dad was in ICU and had a heart bypass after a cardiac arrest, and my husband works at both the university and hospital.

I know as much as anyone how much the hospital matters.

The hospital is a big project with a big price tag. We all know how much prices have gone up in recent times. Building costs have skyrocketed too.

The original budget ballooned, and the government committed more money in response. Our new Dunedin hospital will be the most expensive hospital ever built in New Zealand — and I am proud of that investment.

There has been a lot of talk about cuts. Much of this has been fuelled by an outdated memo that doesn’t reflect the current state of play.

There are 367 beds in our current hospital, and 410 in the new build. Our current hospital has 17 operating theatres, the new hospital will have 26; 31 emergency department bays at present, growing to 53.

The new hospital will be bigger, better, more modern, and better suited to our community.

The budget savings have come through redesign of some of the architectural features, and also sadly, the non-clinical pavilion.

But if we must choose between prioritising clinical or non-clinical space, the new Dunedin Hospital team has said patient areas come first. I back that call.

Despite what people might say, money is never unlimited, and we need to make choices about where to prioritise funds.

The new hospital will be something we can all be proud of.

It will be where I and my family will get treatment if we need it.

So for me, this is personal.