The new Dunedin Hospital will not have enough beds to meet future demand, based on the Government's own numbers, National Dunedin list MP Michael Woodhouse says.
A fortnight ago the Government finally signed off on the long-delayed detailed business case for the $1.47 billion project, and a Cabinet paper was released setting out bare details of what services, operating theatres and bed numbers the new facility will have.
That document said the strategic case for the new hospital was based on the poor condition of existing buildings, and that the old hospital would not be able to cope with projected demand.
"For example, inpatients discharges are projected to increase by 28% by 2042-43 and bed days are projected to increase by over 40% due to an ageing population with more complex health needs."
Woodhouse, a hospital chief executive before entering politics, said he greatly doubted the new hospital would be able to meet forecast demand with the intended number of beds.
"Technically, it is correct that we will have more beds than we have now, but the idea that we can meet future demand with those bed numbers is pie in the sky.
"If they are building capacity for an enhanced emergency department and they are successful in making sure that only urgent cases got to the ED, why are they not planning for a consequent increase in bed numbers?"
Hospital planners seemed to be expecting that a higher proportion of people presenting at the emergency department would be discharged back into the community than was now the case, Woodhouse said.
"What is the clinical modelling that underpins these beds numbers?
"I don't think there is any. I think it is financial modelling which is driving these bed numbers."
A Ministry of Health spokeswoman said the modelling for future capacity in the new hospital had taken into account both population growth as well as growth in key services from changes in population demographics.
Hospital planners have always said they expected more services would be provided in the community than now.
"Some services will be able to be delivered in a different and contemporary way," the spokeswoman said.
"For example, the hospital will have a new 23-hour ward which will have 20 beds to support day surgery."
Capacity in an assessment and planning unit had been increased from four to 32 beds, which was expected to provide a better and more efficient service, the spokeswoman said.
The hospital is being built in two stages; an outpatient building planned to open in 2025 and a larger inpatient building scheduled to open in 2028.
The first construction contracts for the two main buildings are expected to be signed soon.