New Zealand Labour Party

Rebuilding Dunedin Hospital

All New Zealanders should be able to get the healthcare they need, when they need it. Dunedin Hospital serves 300,000 people in the city and the surrounding regions, but it is no longer fit for delivering modern healthcare to a population with increasing health needs.

For years, Dunedin Hospital has needed to be rebuilt. The 50-year-old Clinical Services Building is not designed for modern medical treatment and is leaking, meaning operations have had to be delayed when it rains. Asbestos contamination has closed off parts of the hospital. All the other main buildings have been assessed as uneconomic to maintain and out of date. Most of the buildings would be unuseable in the event of a severe earthquake.

Instead of getting the investment needed in a new hospital, Southern DHB has been chronically underfunded by the Government, and Dunedin Hospital’s condition has deteriorated. It poses a risk for patients and hospital workers.

The current Government has finally committed to making a decision on the rebuild but Cabinet won’t consider the details until sometime next year and it plans for the new hospital to be up to 10 years away.

Rather than focusing on building the facilities Dunedin needs, the current Government is more interested in whether it can effectively privatise the hospital through a Public Private Partnership. Hospital PPPs in the UK have a disastrous track record of cost blow-outs and poor service, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan calling them “a millstone round the necks” of London hospitals.

Labour will:

  • commit to beginning construction of the new Dunedin Hospital within our first term
  • fund the rebuild out of the Government’s normal capital allowance, and rule out using a PPP
  • commit to a central city site for the new hospital, not the Wakari site
  • immediately form a group of Southern DHB, Ministry of Health, Dunedin City Council, Otago Regional Council, and the University of Otago to agree the vision for the new hospital and what each of those organisations will do to help realise it. 

With Labour’s approach, Dunedin will have a new hospital as soon as possible, and the taxpayer will get the best value for money. Avoiding further delay will minimise costs and mean patients get better care more quickly.

There is sufficient funding within the Government’s capital spending allowance to build Dunedin Hospital without a PPP. The tendering and contracting process for a PPP would only add delays before the rebuild starts and add costs in the long-run because the contract would have to return a profit to private investors. A PPP would be an untested, expensive form of financing that is unnecessary and full of risks.

This project is expected to cost $1.4 billion, and will deliver the most modern hospital in New Zealand, ready to serve Dunedin and the Lower South Island for decades to come.