Work on the so-called Detailed Business Case for the new Dunedin hospital is advancing to the point that it is starting to drown in paper, according to the Southern Partnership Group convener, Pete Hodgson.
“Because it is a major project the Cabinet must be satisfied that the business case is strong. Of course the hospital was a clear pre-election promise, but we still need to jump through all the hoops that Treasury’s policy requires of us, and the end result is that we are merrily drowning in paper.
“A detailed business has strategic, commercial, economic, financial and management components and a bunch of other contributing documents beneath that as well. When finished it will be well over a thousand pages. In due course it can be released publicly though it may never have a very wide readership."
Mr Hodgson defended the Treasury process saying that it caused endless questions to be asked and answered. He said that while the jargon was a barrier, the structure of the papers meant that just about every risk and opportunity had been identified and described.
“We need to build a good hospital, that is the right size and can do the right things, for decades.
"Of course much depends on assumptions about how the future will look. Population growth and population ageing are two obvious factors to take into account, as is the impact of technology.
"Also, people will be more likely to spend less time in inpatients and more time in outpatients or in primary care. These worldwide trends need to be applied thoughtfully to the population of Otago and Southland.
“Assumptions are tricky things because they can be wrong. So we also need to factor in some flexibility as we go.”
Mr Hodgson said the Detailed Business Case would be completed in two stages, with the bigger of the two stages concluding ‘very shortly, in the next couple of months.’
“At that point we will be close to awarding the large architectural contract and will be able to say to the successful bidder ‘here, go and conceptualise a hospital campus that will do what this business case seeks’.
"The first job of the architect will then be to develop a master site plan and a concept plan, and that will in turn allow us to finesse and present the Detailed Business Case to Cabinet in the first few months of 2019. Only then can detailed planning start.”
Mr Hodgson reaffirmed that the project remains on track.