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Dunedin hospital rebuild overdue but privatisation feared

1 May 2014

Dunedin hospital rebuild long overdue but privatisation feared

“Dunedin Hospital has been allowed to become run down for too long so news that a major rebuild is moving closer will be welcome for patients and front line clinical staff working there,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).

Health Minister Tony Ryall has indicated the Cabinet will look at a business case for a major upgrade sometime next year.

“Rebuilding the hospital is well overdue, and we’d like to see a real commitment to this project from the Government. Patients deserve better facilities and so do the senior doctors and other staff working at the hospital, so we’re urging the Government to make a decision as soon as possible.”

Past incidents include water leaks in the hospital’s surgical theatre, which had desterilised surgical equipment, power outages to wards, and a public ward block lift ‘free falling’ five floors.

“It’s hardly the standard of facilities we’d expect in New Zealand’s health system. We need to make sure the hospital is fit for purpose, and is safe and modern so it supports the delivery of high quality public health care by our clinical staff.”

But this rebuilding will be undermined if the Government continues with its policy of pressuring DHBs to go down a similar track as public hospitals in England, which were forced to enter into public-private partnerships (PPPs). These had led to private businesses seeking to maximise profits by influencing the design and operation of public hospitals, and had been a disastrous experiment.

“There have been reports from the UK of hospitals there spending extortionate sums of money on private contractors rather than on patients, and of NHS trusts paying £466 to replace a light fitting, £242 to put a padlock and even £15,000 to install a laundry door following a feasibility study.

“Using the run-down of Dunedin Hospital as the basis for privatising it would be disastrous. The British experience shows that patients and clinical staff do not need health services exposed to the risk of cutthroat private partnerships.”

ENDS

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