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.

Hipkins clarifies Northcote school rebuild not by-election related

Labour’s candidate in the Northcote by-election, Shanan Halbert, tried to capitalise on a school rebuild announcement in his campaigning.

Minister of Education Chris Hipkins clarified – albeit a day later – that the rebuild had nothing to do with campaign promises, it would have happened anyway.

Dunedin hospital rebuild

Last week National announced a schedule for rebuilding the Dunedin Hospital, parts of which are in a very poor state. Rain leaks into the operating theatre, and asbestos in ceilings of the clinical services block means that new cabling can’t be run.

Dr Coleman made the announcement with Prime Minister Bill English at Dunedin Hospital today.

“The Government is committed to ensuring the people of Dunedin and the wider Southern community receive quality hospital care,” Dr Coleman says.

“We have been assessing the options around refurbishing the existing site and building a new hospital. The decision has been made to rebuild.

“This would maximise the opportunity of having a purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility, while also minimising disruption to patients and staff.

“Given the scale of the project it is estimated to cost between $1.2 billion – $1.4 billion, making it the largest hospital rebuild in New Zealand history.

“The original plan was to simply rebuild the services block, but the indicative business case has determined that the ward block also needs replacing and that has increased the cost significantly from the original $300 million estimate.

“The Ministry of Health is working to secure an appropriate site for the new hospital, with a strong preference for a central city location. Depending on the location the new hospital will be opened in 7 – 10 years.

Promises of rebuilding had been staggering along for years, and this announcement says it will be 7-10 years before a new hospital is finished – unless there are further delays.

“Given the size of the project the Government will consider all funding options including a Private Public Partnership model.

“We are also taking steps to support the existing Dunedin Hospital while the rebuild takes place with an extra $4.7 million being invested into the Interim Works programme, taking the fund to $27.2 million.

The Indicative Business Case for Dunedin Hospital can be accessed here.

There were protests at the hospital for this announcement, and some of those protesting came back yesterday to cheer Jacinda Ardern for a Labour pledge.

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.

“We will build the new hospital without a Public Private Partnership (PPP) and it will be rebuilt within existing funds.

“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.

Dunedin is one of the lowest risk areas for earthquakes in the country.

“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.

“There is enough money in the Government’s capital spending allowance to build the hospital without a PPP.

Good for Dunedin, but that must mean $1-1.5 Billion of the capital spending allowance won’t be available for other things.

“Labour will not build on the Wakari site but we want a central city site for the new hospital.

That’s good, Wakari is too far away from downtown Dunedin, but stating this means the price of available land may go up.

“With Labour’s approach we will have a new hospital as soon as possible and we will immediately form a group around the Southern DHB, the Ministry of Health, the Dunedin City Council, the Otago Regional Council and the University of Otago to agree on a vision for this hospital.

Another working group!

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

National have sort of pledged the same. But Labour are significantly in front on this. The hospital rebuild, and standards of health care, and food supplied from Auckland, have all been contentious issues in Dunedin.

Labour should hold both their seats – especially with a sampaign like this:

It won’t be rebuilt ‘now’ by either Labour or National. It will take years to get started – they don’t even know where they will build the new hospital yet.

But Labour are very much on the front foot here, and National really don’t seem to put much priority on Dunedin.

Treasury delays Dunedin hospital rebuild

Last year the Government tried to speed up the process to rebuild Dunedin Hospital but Treasury slowed things down. Existing buildings are deteriorating, particularly the clinical services block which includes operating theatres.

ODT: Brakes put on hospital

The Treasury has managed to slow down the Dunedin Hospital rebuild, despite the  clinical services building being at risk of abrupt clinical failure. Advice released under the Official Information Act shows the Treasury warned Finance Minister Bill English that haste was a “major risk to a successful outcome”.

Last year, Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman told officials to try to speed things up. In response, health officials proposed shortening the lengthy Treasury-approval process by six months.

But the Treasury told Mr English: “The [Southern Partnership Group] and the Ministry [of Health] are coming under pressure to expedite timelines for the business case process. We see this as a major risk to a successful outcome.”

The March advice was not the first such warning from the Treasury, but the Otago Daily Times has ascertained that its advice meant a move to speed up the project was scrapped.

Late last year, the ODTreported  Treasury had warned both Mr English and Dr Coleman against speeding up the timeframe.

Southern Partnership Group chairman Andrew Blair, in a statement to the Otago Daily Times, said the group settled on a slightly slower timeframe which struck an “appropriate balance”.

A new hospital is more than seven years from completion. The ministry has said it is looking at the entire hospital campus, and it has not said exactly what will be built, nor the site.

An official assessment of the clinical services building says it is “crumbling” and at risk of a significant defect that causes its abrupt closure.

The clinical services block in particular has a number of problems. In 2014 there were major leak problems in the operating theatres.

ODT: Q&A: The Hospital rebuild

The clinical services building is crumbling and suffered years of maintenance neglect.

It does not meet standards for electrical wiring, infection control, and management of dirty laundry. 

Its asbestos problem means even though there’s a special budget now for deferred maintenance, some areas are no-go.

Built in the 1960s, it’s at risk of abrupt clinical failure.

There are concerns it would not withstand a significant earthquake.

What about the ward block?

Even though it’s younger (built in the 1970s and commissioned in 1980) the ward block has suffered from the same deferred maintenance as the CSB.

It needs “substantial renovation”.

A 2012 assessment deemed its remaining “service life” at just under 16 years.

It “needs systematic re-lifing or will otherwise stumble through with reactive upgrades as building systems fail” according to an official assessment.

Cunliffe – Rebuilding the future?

David Cunliffe’s big conference speech went down well with Labourites, they have been reinvigorated and their numbers have been inflated by his leadership.

But it’s far from clear how the wider voting public see Cunliffe apart from being a slick politician. That is something for the future.

A major theme in Cunliffe’s spech was the future, his speech was headlined Building a future for all and there was many references to the future.

The house was a stone’s throw from the railway tracks, tracks on which my father’s family worked and which much of the early history of this country was built – with hard labour, with high hopes and fervent dreams of a more prosperous future.

This weekend, our Party sets out together on a challenging but exciting new path. The stakes could not be higher: for the very future of this country and all who live in it.

Helping to create a fairer, more equitable future for all New Zealanders.

3. Building a Future for All

We will restore an effective emissions trading scheme. We will not walk away from our responsibities to the planet, its climate or future generations.

We want a high value, low carbon, renewable energy, smart, clean tech future.

Labour will help New Zealanders look to the future with confidence, in who we are, where we stand, where we are going.

4.  Creating the future

Our mission is to Build a Future for All, including an economy that works for everyone, a fair and just society, an environment we protect, and a nation we can be proud of.

We need to reimagine the future. To rebuild it.

Together, we will build a future for the children in this country who live in poverty, who go to school with empty stomachs, whose parents can’t afford to take them to the doctor when they are ill, who contract Third-World diseases through overcrowding in sub-standard housing.

5. Summary

Together, we will build a future for the children in this country who live in poverty, who go to school with empty stomachs, whose parents can’t afford to take them to the doctor when they are ill, who contract Third-World diseases through overcrowding in sub-standard housing.

We will build a future for the young people who leave school directionless without support, guidance or prospects.

We will build a future with our young people who come out of university with huge loans, fight their way into poorly paid jobs., and who can’t afford to buy a home of their own.

We will build a future with our businesses and exporters held back by the inflexible Reserve Bank Act that sets inflation as its primary target while ignoring the devastating effects of a high exchange rate.

We will build a future with our scientists who, are forced to look overseas for meaningful work

We will build a future with our public servants – our wonderful policewomen and men, our teachers, our nurses and doctors – whose work and worth has been so undermined and demoralized by this destructive Government.

We will build a future with our artists, authors, musicians and performers – who help us to understand not only where we stand in the world, but to feel comfortable in our own skins – and proud of who we are.

Together, we will build a future for all New Zealanders, with an economy that works for all of us, a fair and just society, an environment we protect, and a nation we can all be proud of.

Building a future is an interesting enough concept.

But the first future reference was the most ambitious.

We need to reimagine the future. To rebuild it.

How do you rebuild the future? That could take quite a bit of reimagining what politicians are capable of doing. Even one as confident of his capabilities as David Cunliffe.