The Press

Hospital debut date finally set

Patients will be treated in $525m building from November

- Oliver Lewis

Patients will be treated in a $525 million Christchur­ch Hospital building from November, more than two years after the building was meant to open.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced the Ministry of Health is on track to hand over the Christchur­ch Hospital Hagley building to the Canterbury District Health Board on August 10, with the first patients due to be treated in the hospital from the week beginning November 16.

Hipkins acknowledg­ed it had been a long wait getting the building finished, due to challenges arising from the size and complexity of the build. The 10-level building has an area of 62,000 square metres (the justice precinct is about 42,000).

It was the largest hospital ever built in New Zealand, and it had been important to ensure work was completed to a high standard, Hipkins said. “I know everyone is looking forward to seeing the new hospital operationa­l.

“It’s a fantastic facility, which will enable the DHB to continue to deliver high quality care both now and well into the future.”

When asked how he felt now there were confirmed dates, DHB chief executive David Meates said there was an immense sense of relief that the end was in sight.

“With that also comes the excitement from teams because they can now see we’re in the final stages and this is now real, and that’s really, really exciting.”

The new hospital features 12 operating theatres, a new emergency department and a new intensive care unit, a state-of-the-art radiology department, sterile services area, 413 in-patient beds, and a helipad on the roof, which will provide a much quicker transfer for patients than the current helipad in Hagley Park, opposite the hospital.

It was fitted with 129 base isolaters and built to ‘‘importance level 4’’ seismic standards.

Australian contractor CPB, which is also working on Christchur­ch’s convention centre and

metro sports facility, started building work on the hospital in 2016.

During the build, The Press detailed a series of errors and delays, including the discovery of more than 7000 passive fire defects, the installati­on of nonspecifi­ed pipes, flood damage caused by a faulty water valve and senior hospital clinicians raising concerns about omissions and errors.

Meates said the board had initially expected to be able to move into the hospital in March 2018. The business case process for the building started in 2009 and was reworked following the Canterbury earthquake­s, he said.

‘‘It’s been a long journey,’’ Meates said, adding the delays had come with consequenc­es, including extensive outsourcin­g of surgeries. ‘‘The last three years we’ve been using 10 operating theatres per day Monday to Friday [in the private sector].’’

The budget for the project had also changed. When then-health minister Jonathan Coleman signed the constructi­on contract in 2016 the project cost was $445m. It was now $525m.

Meates said there was still a massive amount that needed to be done between the August 10 handover and patients coming into the hospital, including some minor constructi­on works, extensive cleaning, testing of new equipment, simulating emergency scenarios and a certificat­ion process.

All services should be operationa­l by the end of November, he said. ‘‘I think the community are going to be quite stunned just how different the facility is compared with what they have experience­d in the existing Christchur­ch campus.’’

The Canterbury DHB had raised concerns the building would not provide enough capacity to meet future demand. Meates said it would enable the board to meet its immediate demands.

‘‘We’ve been working through the broader campus master plan and the business case for tower three because we’re going to be at capacity very, very quickly.’’

The board this year signed off on a plan to build a third tower on the building. The $154m option was for a fivestorey tower with only two storeys fitted out with wards – the remainder would remain empty until there was more money to fit them out.

The decision went against the advice of leading clinicians, who had been advocating for a fully outfitted third tower and a fourth tower on a new podium building.

 ?? STACY SQUIRES/STUFF ?? Christchur­ch Hospital Hagley.
STACY SQUIRES/STUFF Christchur­ch Hospital Hagley.
 ?? STUFF ?? Health Minister Chris Hipkins says the new hospital is ‘‘ a fantastic facility.’’
STUFF Health Minister Chris Hipkins says the new hospital is ‘‘ a fantastic facility.’’

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