Protestors marching on Dunedin Hospital have forced Prime Minister Bill English and his entourage out a side door this afternoon.

Equal pay protesters stormed into the foyer chanting during the announcement of a $1.2 billion hospital for the city, made by Mr English and Health Minister Jonathan Coleman, with National MP Michael Woodhouse also in attendance.

One protester said when the politicians saw the protesters coming in they took off and went out another door.

Another protester said she saw them cross the road, after chasing them through the building.

However a spokeswoman for Dr Coleman said the protesters were overcooking what happened.

She said the ministers were not “chased” but had gone out the back door of the building as planned, to cross the road to the the university’s graduation parade.​

Dunedin has been promised a new billion dollar hospital that the government says will be the largest build of its kind in New Zealand history.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman announced the new facility, expected to cost up to $1.4 billion, on a visit to the city with Prime Minister Bill English.

The pair had earlier been greeted by protesters who showed up with 100 life-size health worker cutouts and complaints about rundown buildings and exhausted staff.

Dr Coleman said refurbishing old buildings had been considered before the decision to rebuild.

“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,” he said.

“Depending on the location the new hospital will be opened in seven to 10 years.”

Discussions are still ongoing about the location but he said the preference was for it to be in the city centre.

Talks are also happening around funding, which could include Public Private Partnership.

In the meantime Dr Coleman said the government would boost the interim works programme budget by $4.7 million for projects include increasing the capacity of the Intensive Care Unit to 22.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to build modern and sustainable health facilities that will meet the future needs of Dunedin and the wider Southern community.”

The YesWeCare coalition used the ministerial visit to protest health spending and resourcing.

Co-ordinator Simon Oosterman said each of the 100 cutouts brought along by the group represented 300 staff not being funded.

“The lack of staffing and resources at Southern DBH is a symptom of the government’s $2.3 billion of health underfunding,” he said.
“That’s the equivalent of 30,000 missing staff and an immeasurable number of people missing out on the care they need, when they need it.”

Protesters marching on Dunedin Hospital have forced Prime Minister Bill English and his entourage out a side door this afternoon.

Equal pay protesters stormed into the foyer chanting during the announcement of a $1.2 billion hospital for the city, made by Mr English and Health Minister Jonathan Coleman, with National MP Michael Woodhouse also in attendance.

One protester says when the politicans saw the protesters coming in they took off and went out another door.

Another protester said she saw them cross the road, after chasing them through the building.

However a spokeswoman for Dr Coleman says the protesters were overcooking what happened.

She says the ministers were not “chased” but had gone out the back door of the building as planned, to cross the road to the the university’s graduation parade.​

Source: Newstalk ZB

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