Labour promised Dunedin hospital rebuild start this term, now delayed further

A revised plan to rebuild the Dunedin hospital has been announced. It may be a practical, pragmatic and sensible approach, bringing forward the replacement of an outpatients and day surgery with a new building – but it would mean delaying the rebuild of the new hospital by several years, with completion extending another 2-4 years to 2028-3020. This is not what labour promised last year in the election campaign.

ODT: Hospital rebuild fast-tracked, completion date extended

The headline alone looks like a contradiction.

The Government has fast-tracked part of the new Dunedin Hospital build, but it appears the overall build time will be extended.

Health Minister David Clark announced at midday the hospital would be built in two stages, with an outpatient and day surgery building due to be finished more than three years earlier than anticipated.

The new plan is to open the smaller of the two buildings – the day surgery and outpatient building – in two stages: November 2023 and November 2024.

But the larger inpatient building would be finished five or six years after that, meaning the end of the build would be between 2028 and 2030, rather than the mid-2026 date planned.

Dr Clark said the build would be finished “in about 10 years”.

ODT: Services sooner with split build

Dr Clark said the decision came after “some months of thinking and planning”, and was conditional on Cabinet and budgetary processes being secured.

“The underlying issue is that the existing Dunedin Hospital will not last the distance in its current state.

Some services sooner but hospital several years later – the proposal is to extend the distance substantially.

This is contrary to what Labour promised in last year’s election campaign.

Labour: Rebuilding Dunedin Hospital

All New Zealanders should be able to get the healthcare they need, when they need it. Dunedin Hospital serves 300,000 people in the city and the surrounding regions, but it is no longer fit for delivering modern healthcare to a population with increasing health needs.

For years, Dunedin Hospital has needed to be rebuilt.

The current Government has finally committed to making a decision on the rebuild but Cabinet won’t consider the details until sometime next year and it plans for the new hospital to be up to 10 years away.

A year later and under Labour it is now 10-12 years away.

With Labour’s approach, Dunedin will have a new hospital as soon as possible, and the taxpayer will get the best value for money. Avoiding further delay will minimise costs and mean patients get better care more quickly.

Labour will:

  • commit to beginning construction of the new Dunedin Hospital within our first term

This project is expected to cost $1.4 billion, and will deliver the most modern hospital in New Zealand, ready to serve Dunedin and the Lower South Island for decades to come.

But not for another decade or more.

Jacinda Ardern (25 August 2017): Dunedin Hospital to start in Labour’s first term

Labour will start construction on a new Dunedin Hospital in the city centre in Labour’s first term, says the Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.

“This is a project that is long overdue for Dunedin. The hospital at present is dangerous and unsafe for staff and patients. Most of the existing buildings would not survive a severe earthquake.

“Things are so bad that at the moment operations have to be delayed because of the leaks when it rains. Dunedin Hospital is no longer fit for purpose.

“With Labour’s approach we will have a new hospital as soon as possible…

“We pledge that Dunedin Hospital will be rebuilt so that the people of Otago can get the healthcare they deserve,” says Jacinda Ardern.

ODT: ‘Significant’ change to hospital rebuild: What you need to know

This doesn’t say when the actual hospital rebuild will start, but implies it will largely be after the outpatients project set to be complete in 2023-2024.

The New Dunedin Hospital will have two main buildings – a large acute/inpatients building and a smaller outpatients/day surgery facility.

Initially it was thought these would be constructed simultaneously but they will now be built separately. The smaller outpatients/day surgery will be built first.

When will they be built?

The outpatients/day surgery building is planned to open in two stages – with target dates set as November 2023 (day surgery) and November 2024 (outpatient clinics). Importantly, all day surgery will open in November 2023.

The acute/inpatients hospital building will follow and will probably open a decade from now. We will know with more accuracy in the New Year.

Previous opening estimates were July 2026 and February 2027

This suggests that “Labour will start construction on a new Dunedin Hospital in the city centre in Labour’s first term, says the Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern” is a promise that won’t be kept. The actual hospital rebuild won’t start this term, and may not even start in the next term.

How does improving day surgery help the rest of Dunedin Hospital?

Moving day surgery to a new facility frees up room to enlarge and reconfigure the emergency department and make other changes.

No suggestion that the Hospital itself will be affected much if at all, despite Ardern saying “The hospital at present is dangerous and unsafe for staff and patients…Dunedin Hospital is no longer fit for purpose”.

A hospital rebuild website also has a misleading headline: Hospital building fast-tracked

Health Minister Dr David Clark has announced a significant change in the approach to constructing the new Dunedin hospital.

The larger inpatient building does not have a finish date yet but Dr Clark said he expects it will be complete in about ten years.

“The people of the South have been waiting too long for modern hospital facilities – this plan means they can expect to have modern outpatient and day surgery facilities within five years,” David Clark said.

The larger inpatient building does not have a finish date yet but Dr Clark said he expects it will be complete in about ten years.

The ‘inpatient building’ (basically, the hospital), doesn’t even have a start date yet, despite Labour promising a start this term.

Despite the claimed unsafeness of the existing hospital building the revised plan may be a sensible way to rebuild, but the reality is looking increasingly different to the campaign rhetoric.