DHB restructures big upgrade

ALEXIA JOHNSTON
Last updated 05:00 04/09/2012

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Timaru will not be getting a new hospital any time soon after the South Canterbury District Health Board confirmed it had restructured its plans for a multimillion-dollar upgrade.

South Canterbury District Health Board acting chief executive Nigel Trainor said yesterday the DHB was taking a step back on its proposed $83.2 million project, due to financial restrictions.

"What we did is [ask ourselves]: ‘Can we afford this at this time?' and the answer is: ‘We don't believe we can', so we thought we'll delay it while we save for it."

He said the cost of servicing the capital investment would be difficult.

"What we need to be doing is over the next 10 to 15 years to run a break-even or surplus.

"If you get into a deficit situation, sometimes you get into a difficult position [and] you have to cut costs, and we don't want to have to do that."

To meet its financial obligations, the DHB will go back to the drawing board to determine what its most urgent upgrade requirements are.

Mr Trainor said the Facility Master Plan, which the SCDHB revealed to the public in May, would remain on the agenda, but would be completed over a longer period than first anticipated. The proposed plan, which had not yet reached the Ministry of Health for approval, includes one major new building east of the clinical services block.

In the meantime, some modifications will be added to the hospital's existing building to help get it through the next 10 to 15 years and "bigger redevelopment" would then follow, he said.

"It doesn't mean we're not going to spend anything."

The SCDHB has gone back to architects and engineers for advice.

Parts of the hospital that are likely to be upgraded in the near future include the outpatients, day stay and waiting areas. The future of the Gardens Block will also be considered in the short term.

Staff working in the north end of the building were evacuated in July after an engineer's report warned that end of the six-storey building could suffer a catastrophic collapse in a severe earthquake.

Staff in the south end will also move out of the building when alternative accommodation is found. It is not yet known if it will be demolished or strengthened.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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