$400m plan for Christchurch hospital

BY KIM THOMAS
Last updated 05:00 17/09/2009
Work to be done in the development of Christchurch Hospital.

Work to be done in the development of Christchurch Hospital.

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Christchurch is set to get a new hospital worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The proposal includes dedicated cancer and children's facilities in one of Canterbury's biggest construction projects.

The proposed hospital will also have extra operating theatres and a rooftop helipad.

The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) yesterday released details to The Press of its proposed revamp of the Christchurch Hospital site.

The first stage, estimated to cost between $350 million and $400m, would see a new 450-bed hospital on an area now used as a car park. The second stage would involve the demolition of the Riverside building and constructing the second part of the new hospital.

Construction of the first stage could start at the end of 2011 if plans are approved by the Ministry of Health.

Building is expected to take three years.

Plans for the hospital depend on the Christchurch City Council swapping a piece of its land, currently used as a hospital car park, for a piece of health board land.

The board says it can fund the first stage but will have to ask the Government for the money to build the second part of the hospital.

Parts of the hospital, such as the Riverside block and the former nurses' hostel, are not earthquake-resistant and need replacing, hospital management says.

The existing hospital would not be able to cope with the needs of Canterbury's growing population, so an upgrade was "much-needed and critical", CDHB chief executive David Meates said.

Canterbury had one of the oldest populations in New Zealand, which was already placing pressure on Christchurch Hospital.

"Unless we redevelop the Christchurch site or find an alternative, we are facing a real sustainability issue with many of our core health services."

Meates said the proposed redevelopment was the best of many options considered as it allowed construction at Christchurch Hospital without disrupting services.

The new hospital would consolidate facilities, such as cancer and children's services, that were now spread across the site.

It would have a street, possibly with a bus lane, where patients could be dropped off, Meates said.

Health board chairman Alister James said Canterbury desperately needed more hospital beds.

The board had met the city council about the land swap and did not expect any stumbling blocks, he said. "I would be very surprised if there were any major sticking points because we are offering them a better parcel of land a premium piece of riverside land."

He said there could be some opposition to demolishing the former nurses' hostel, which had no formal historic or council listing but had sentimental value for some people.

The hostel site had been given to the board many years ago on condition it was used for health services.

It would be used as a car park for the new hospital, James said.

Mayor Bob Parker said he was thrilled about plans for the new hospital as the future of Christchurch largely depended on being able to provide superior healthcare for its ageing population.

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He said any land swap would be subject to public consultation, but he did not believe it would be a problem.

"It seems to be in favour of citizens to swap a car park for a prime piece of parkland."

Parker said the scale of the project would surpass other construction in the city, such as the $200m airport terminal, the $100m council building and the $60m AMI Stadium projects.

- The Press

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