29 Feb 2024

Health Minister Shane Reti coy on whether promised Dunedin hospital additions will happen

3:17 pm on 29 February 2024
Artist's impression of the new Dunedin Hospital from Te Whatu Ora website

An artist's impression of the new hospital. Photo: Supplied / Te Whatu Ora

The government is declining to commit to its pre-election promise to put more beds and services into Dunedin's new hospital.

The National Party said last year it would restore 23 beds, two operating theatres and a high-tech scanner, that $90 million of emergency cost-saving cuts to the project had excised.

Health Minister Shane Reti, asked by RNZ if he would follow through on what National had estimated was a $30 million pledge, in a statement said only: "This is one of a number of large and complex health infrastructure projects on which I continue to receive advice. I look forward to travelling to Dunedin in the coming weeks to view the project for myself."

The whole project is currently budgeted at $1.59 billion, though this does not appear to include almost $100m for information technology systems for stage one, the outpatients block.

Piling at stage one is well advanced, suggesting any redesign at this stage is unlikely.

Reti in December said he was awaiting advice about the full portfolio of health infrastructure.

Shane Reti

Shane Reti. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Te Whatu Ora now said it sent him a draft nationwide investment plan and asset management strategy in December, within deadline.

"Following the minister's feedback, the documents will then be finalised, and a Cabinet paper prepared to seek Cabinet's approval," it said.

Then the documents would be released publicly.

It comes four years after the first draft of a national asset management plan was released to fanfare by the previous government.

Finalising the plan and strategy has faced delay upon delay, amid the sweeping health reforms.

How they are now implemented will fall to new national and regional infrastructure teams.

The government was told last July the new set-up had already paid dividends of better governance and delivery structures at the three huge hospital redevelopments in Dunedin, Whangārei and Nelson.

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