The new Dunedin Hospital will be about the same size as the current facility and have substantially fewer beds than first promised.
After much wrangling and a delay of more than a year, the detailed business case for the hospital has been signed off by Cabinet.
The Government has agreed to a four-storey outpatient building, planned to open in January 2025, and a nine-storey inpatient building which it is hoped will be ready by April 2028.
Originally, the hospital was envisaged as an eight or nine-storey main block with an adjacent six-storey building; at one stage, both the Ministry of Health and the Southern District Health Board pushed for that plan to be scrapped in favour of a single building.
"This was a decision taken to make sure that we got the building that was the most suitable for Dunedin," Finance Minister Grant Robertson said yesterday.
"I mean that literally and figuratively in the sense of the two-building design itself with the linking bridge and so on, and also what was the most effective way of delivering what we wanted to deliver."
The plan expects that the new hospital will have 421 beds, 16 operating theatres but with the capacity to expand to 21, and 30 intensive care beds which can be increased to 40 if needed.
The hospital site master plan, released in 2019, was developed for a 396-bed hospital with an additional 61 day beds and capacity to increase to 454 beds by 2043.
In March, in an answer to written parliamentary questions from Dunedin National MP Michael Woodhouse, Health Minister Andrew Little said the new hospital was proposed to have 474 beds.
"It is the nature of these big projects that as you go through the business case process, the reason we do it is so that we can identify how we can most effectively and efficiently build this," Robertson said.
"It's been done with clinicians and it's been done alongside those who understand how to build hospitals
"The shape and scale is a little different but it will still deliver the services that Dunedin needs."
Documents newly lodged on the Environmental Authority website as part of the Ministry of Health's fast-track consent process propose an 11-storey main building, a five-storey smaller building, and a three-storey ancillary building in Bow Lane.
Robertson said "that was where the process started" but that the plan in the detailed business case was what the Government was going ahead with.
"While it has been reconfigured, I think it will still meet most of the needs and the bed capacity issues that were raised with us."
The new hospital will be 91,000sqm — the current hospital is 89,731sqm, and plans for its replacement have fluctuated between 76,000sqm and 125,000sqm.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic reinforced the need for government investment in health infrastructure.
"We have further facilities up and down the country, and mental health and addiction facilities we are also looking to enhance or build, as well.
"We will be better placed having undertaken this work to face those wider challenges."
The business case sets the budget for the hospital at $1.47billion. In its original scope, the project was budgeted to cost $1.4billion, a sum which a Cabinet paper released to the ODT last year said would not be sufficient.
By the numbers:
• 91,000 square metres
• 4-storey outpatient building
• 9-storey inpatient building
• 421 beds
• 16 theatres (expandable to 21)
• 30 ICU beds (expandable to 40)
• $1.47 billion budget