24 Mar 2017

SOS for central city Dunedin Hospital

8:26 pm on 24 March 2017

The Dunedin City Council has officially launched its campaign to keep the city's hospital in the CBD.

More than 3000 people work at Dunedin Hospital.

More than 3000 people work at Dunedin Hospital. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

A small crowd of supporters attended the launch in Dunedin today.

A shortlist of possible sites for the $300 million project to replace Dunedin's failing hospital buildings includes moving it to a greenfield site outside the CBD or a satellite campus.

Councillor David Benson-Pope said that was not an option.

"There is absolutely nothing sensible about not developing on or adjacent to the current site.

"No one's saying it's easy, but it doesn't get any easier by having five options you can't make your mind up about."

The Southern Partnership Group will give the Health and Finance Ministers an indicative business case with a short list of rebuild options in July.

Chairman Andrew Blair told RNZ News earlier this week that he had heard the council's message loud and clear and it did not need to launch a campaign.

He said the group was looking hard at reusing the existing site, nearby sites and others around the city. That should give the public comfort.

Mr Benson-Pope said that was not good enough.

"I'll believe that when the paper that goes to Cabinet includes two options, either the existing site or an adjacent inner city site, not when they're talking about three other non-starter options."

'It's been very badly handled'

One of those who turned out for today's launch was Barbara Brinsley, who retired last year from her job as a nurse at Dunedin hospital.

She said it was imperative the hospital stayed in town close to the medical school.

Ms Brinsley said there hadn't been enough transparency from the Southern Partnership Group around the rebuild process.

"It's been very badly handled and it certainly hasn't been very democratic in a country that should have freedom to be able to say and to hear, positively, of what's going on.

"We honestly haven't heard anything in 18 months, so we might as well go to the beach."

A spokesperson Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said he was well aware of the council's desire to keep the new hospital as close to the current one as possible.

The spokesperson said patients needed to come first. Progress could not be at their expense.

The council will undertake a letter drop to Dunedin residents over the next few days. It has started a Facebook page called Dunedin Hospital SOS.