Hospital to change focus from specialised to general provider

Hospital to change focus from specialised to general provider

The Dunedin Hospital may look like a carpark, but now, plans are being developed to completely rebuild the hospital, at a cost of approximately $300 million. On top of that, or despite it depending on how you look at it, the Southern District Health Board are also in the process of changing the focus of the hospital from one of a ‘specific focus’ to one with a ‘general’ focus.

Southern DHB Commissioner Kathy Grant told Critic of how the “redevelopment is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build modern and sustainable health care services and facilities to meet the needs of the Southern community.”

The reason for the redevelopment project is because of certain buildings on the hospital campus nearing the end of their economic life, including the Clinical Services Building, which is nearing 60 years since its build.

Of course, the rebuild is not an overnight project. It will take decades to complete meaning that the university’s current medical students and the student population at large will unlikely be studying by the time it’s finished.

The first stages may be well underway, but Grant outlined that an “Indicative Business Case will be developed establishing options for the redevelopment by mid-2017.” Beyond that, the preferred option will be made into a Detailed Business Case by mid-2018, which will then be implemented some time after that. Due to the complexities of the project, no time-frame is publically available at this stage. The plans for the change to the hospital’s focus is also contained in this process.

With these preliminary plans and decisions having already been set in motion, the public may feel as though their voices are being drowned out by the bureaucratic process, but according to Grant, “the DHB recently ran extensive public consultation on how to improve health services across the Southern region.” In addition to this, the board are still discussing and working on the opportunity for community engagement during the lifetime of the process.

The Medical School will undoubtedly be affected, and DHB Commissioner Grant finished by assuring students and staff that the “Dunedin Medical School is an important stakeholder in this work and we continue to work closely with them.” Otago University Medical Students Association declined to comment.

This article first appeared in Issue 17, 2016.
Posted 10:55am Sunday 31st July 2016 by Joe Higham.