Campaign launch to rebuild Dunedin Hospital in the central city video

Hamish MCNEILLY/Stuff.co.nz

Dunedin councillors speak at a campaign launch to keep Dunedin Hospital in the CBD.

Rebuilding Dunedin Hospital in the central city is "absolutely essential" for the city's future, Mayor Dave Cull says.

His comments come as a public campaign to keep the hospital in the CBD was launched on Friday afternoon.

That campaign, Dunedin Hospital SOS, was supported by the Dunedin City Council after concerns the hospital may be rebuilt outside the CBD.

Dunedin councillors David Benson Pope and Aaron Hawkins speaking at a launch to keep Dunedin Hospital in the CBD.
HAMISH McNEILLY/FAIRFAX NZ

Dunedin councillors David Benson Pope and Aaron Hawkins speaking at a launch to keep Dunedin Hospital in the CBD.

Cr David Benson-Pope told those at the launch that it was vital the hospital remained in the CBD, and not be built at the present Wakari Hospital site, or another greenfield option.

"Sadly, of the five alternatives currently being considered . . . only two of them leave a hospital in central Dunedin."

That included the current site, which was close to the university and medical school, which "sounds all right to us".

The Dunedin City Council has launched a campaign calling for Dunedin Hospital to remain in the central city.
HAMISH McNEILLY/STUFF

The Dunedin City Council has launched a campaign calling for Dunedin Hospital to remain in the central city.

"That's what the city thinks is essential."

Centrally located accommodation, transport and services providers were best served by a CBD-based hospital, he said.

Benson-Pope, a former government minister, said he had a "bit of a feel" for how these political decisions were made, with the Cabinet to make the decision based on advice from Treasury.

A patient walks inside Dunedin Hospital.
HAMISH MCNEILLY/FAIRFAX NZ

A patient walks inside Dunedin Hospital.

"If you going to rely on advice from Treasury, well, good luck."

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That was in reference to advice from Treasury, recommending the Government did not support earthquake strengthening the historic court house in lower Stuart St.

Cr Aaron Hawkins said people successfully lobbied Government to not pursue that decision.

He urged people to support the rebuild of Dunedin Hospital, as it was "the single biggest issue" in the community.

The facility needed to be accessible for the thousands of people who used it every single day.

Mayor Cull, in a statement, said: "All around the world, a central city hospital close to a university and medical school is seen as optimal".

"It's difficult to identify anyone who wouldn't be disadvantaged by moving Dunedin Hospital out of the central city."

A rebuilt hospital had to be "more than just budgetary".

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said he was "well aware of the Dunedin City Council's desire to keep the new hospital as close to the current one as possible".

"That's being factored into the decision making but we also need to put patients first and ultimately what we progress cannot be at their expense."

An indicative business case will be finalised by the end of June.

That would identify a small number of options but won't be site specific, she said.

These options will then be considered by the Capital Investment Committee, and then ministers.

The council passed a series of resolutions, and told concerned ministers that a hospital site must be located in the central city and anything else would be "unacceptable and extremely costly to our community in the long run".

People have been encouraged to visit the campaign website, and to complete an online form that can emailed to Prime Minister Bill English, Coleman, Finance Minister Steven Joyce and Dunedin-based MP Michael Woodhouse.

All Dunedin households will receive a leaflet in their letterboxes in the next few days.

 - Stuff

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