Hospital learning centre on cards

EMMA BEER
Last updated 12:30 25/08/2012

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A new $10 million health learning centre is being proposed for Nelson Hospital.

Nelson Marlborough District Health Board and tertiary education providers plan to build the centre in Franklin St, on the site where Dalton House now sits.

It would provide a home to Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology's Bachelor of Nursing programme students, enable doctors from Otago University to complete their training at Nelson Hospital and offer a facility for the on-going development of Nelson's medical staff, said Nelson MP Nick Smith.

However, it could be two or three years to complete the process of design, obtaining resource consents, securing funding from both the health and education sectors and construction, he said.

Dr Smith said he had briefed health minister Tony Ryall, who was particularly interested in bringing nursing training back on to the hospital site.

"But there's a lot of water to go under the bridge before the ministers and ministry give formal approval of the project."

The funding would need to be a mix from both government education and health budgets, Dr Smith said.

"Work needs to be done on what's a fair contribution from each."

There was also an option of asking for extra funding from the government, if baseline budgets did not cover costs, or funding from outside.

In the late 1990s when the DHB was planning its $40 million upgrade, the idea of a learning centre had been discussed. However, it was not able to be included in the budget at that time, Dr Smith said.

"There's been discussions in the last 12 months about how it could be advanced, and the earthquake problems with NMIT nursing school has really brought the project to the front."

The project was "not at a point where all the ducks are in a row", but it was about being open with the community, he said.

"Obviously funding will be one of the core issues that needs to be resolved, but I'm optimistic we're going to be able to make a strong case and secure the necessary funding.

"I commend these three institutions in coming together with this exciting proposal for a shared facility. These are difficult financial times for Government and there are economic advantages in sectors sharing facilities."

NMIT's director of finance and corporate services Martin Vanner said combining resources helped to ensure the best resources and facilities were provided for nurses' education.

Having the building on the hospital site was a definite benefit, he said.

"We think the co-location is a real advantage because it generates that increased interaction between the medical staff and students, and we're always after better learning outcomes.

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"We'd hope that students would find that an exciting environment to do their degree programme in."

DHB chief executive John Peters said the design that was being considered had flexibility that allowed the building to be adapted for future requirements.

- Nelson

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