Central city rebuild site for Dunedin Hospital welcomed
Dunedin civic leaders are backing plans for a new hospital to be built in the central city.
Prime Minister Bill English confirmed the Dunedin Hospital rebuild, estimated to cost $1.2-1.4 billion, while in the city on Saturday.
His announcement was marred by equal pay protesters storming the hospital, forcing English and his entourage to leave through a side door earlier than expected.
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Earlier, alongside Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman and Dunedin-based cabinet minister Michael Woodhouse, he announced that the rebuild would be the most expensive in New Zealand's history.
The project could be a public-private-partnership, with Ngai Tahu a possible suitor, and create 1000 jobs.
Coleman said would take seven to 10 years to build, ideally in a central city location.
He defended the delay in announcing the project, saying the Government had been pushing for the facility earlier.
"There is no reason why we would sit on a completed business case for months and months and months . . . this is the earliest we could release it."
English, who was given a tour of the ageing current hospital, which had been plagued by asbestos and leaks, conceded a rebuild was the most economic solution.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull welcomed the Government's commitment, but had "reservations" that a rebuild option at suburban Wakari Hospital had not been ruled out.
"But I am encouraged that the Government has reached the same conclusions as the majority of our community in that a central city rebuild is the clear preference."
However, reconfiguring the current site has been ruled out, Southern DHB commissioner Kathy Grant said.
"We now have the assurance that the new design won't be constrained by any existing infrastructure. We now also know that we can avoid the significant disruption to services at Dunedin Hospital while the new hospital takes shape."
Professor Peter Crampton, University of Otago Health Sciences pro-vice chancellor, said the tertiary institution was "encouraged" by the announcement.
"The creation of a modern hospital hub will contribute to us continuing to produce some of the best medical research and healthcare professionals in the world."