Health Minister David Clark today announced a decision to fast track Dunedin’s new outpatient and day surgery building to relieve pressure on the existing main hospital building.

The trade-off of opening the smaller outpatients building three years earlier, than the planned opening date of July 2026, is delaying the opening of the larger new acute/inpatients building by about 20 months.

The  target opening date for the new acute building was February 2027 but it is now estimated that it will probably open a “decade from now” – which would be December 2028 – but a more accurate target date is not expected until the New Year.

Clark said the announcement comes after ‘some months of thinking and planning’, and was conditional on the normal Cabinet and budgetary processes being secured.

“The underlying issue is that the existing Dunedin hospital will not last the distance in its current state. There is simply too much damage, too much congestion, too many things to work around and no room to do so.”

“Had we done nothing, the existing hospital would have progressively struggled to deliver adequate services, especially in the emergency department and in surgical services. It would also be unreasonable to ask staff to operate under existing conditions for another decade.

He said fast-tracking a “manageable chunk” of the project, the smaller outpatients patients and day surgery building, would allow the DHB to repurpose the freed up space to better serve the needs of patients and staff.

“That will mean the existing hospital will be much more functional for the last five or six years of its life.”

The new plan is to open the day surgery and outpatient building, in two stages; November 2023 and November 2024 with day surgery be able to start in the new facility in November 2023. Contingency times have been built into the plans but the dates were dependent on no major obstacles such as unpredicted ground conditions.

The Dunedin Hospital project website says another influence on the decision was workforce with the smaller project requiring about 350 works on site at peak which was a “manageable prospect” and the project could be used to train apprentices ready to work on the larger, complex inpatients building.

The masterplan for the project is expected to be released early in 2019 and the DHB was working on a business case for additional funding from the Ministry of Health for ‘critical work at Dunedin Hospital.  Site prepration and ground works on the former Cadbury factory site are expected to start in the second half of 2020.


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