The Canterbury District Health Board has cut the number of beds in a new hospital building by 15 percent because it can't afford them.
The new acute services building, due to open in 2018 as part of the redevelopment of Christchurch and Burwood hospitals, was originally intended to have 400 beds.
The decision - announced at a private board meeting last week - is understood to have been made by the Hospital Redevelopment Partnership Group, the Treasury and the Ministry of Health.
Canterbury DHB board chair Murray Cleverley said the redevelopment group unanimously agreed to put off fitting out two 32-bed wards.
He said the construction contract could not be signed because of a gap in funding, so they decided to reduce the beds instead of delaying the building.
Mr Cleverly said the group was looking at other ways to save money on the project to help fund 64 more beds.