Building the new hospital in two stages has multiple advantages in addition to providing relief to the existing hospital, according to Pete Hodgson, chair of the Southern Partnership Group.

“The announcement that the new day surgery and outpatients building is being constructed on a fast track will help address the biggest challenge the new hospital complex faces – a shortage of construction workers.

"Even though Dunedin is focussing on training a home-grown workforce much earlier than other cities, securing enough people to construct a very large building in a relatively small city has always been our major challenge. 

“By bringing forward the day surgery and outpatient building we will be able to spread the effort. This smaller of the two main buildings will need about 350 workers on site at peak, which is a very manageable prospect.

"Indeed, it is about the size of the combined workforce on various University of Otago construction projects now. It can also be part of the training program for apprentices. These young apprentices will know they will have a unique opportunity to work as qualified tradesmen and tradeswomen on the large, complex inpatients building. 

“We don’t doubt we will need to import some labour, but the more we can use our local workforce the better. The future for construction in Dunedin is remarkably buoyant, well beyond 2030, because the hospital will cause other building programs to be put on hold, only to be quickly resumed when the large inpatient building is finished. 

“The two buildings will be tendered as two separate contracts, and that confers local advantages too. Even if the larger building contract involves an offshore player, more work will be available to Otago and New Zealand firms by splitting the work, including the sub contracts. 

Mr Hodgson said the design and engineering contracts are due to be let early next year. 

“Wherever possible, and sensible, the construction programme will undertake multiple activities at the same time so as to maintain an efficient critical path. The site preparation and ground works will begin in the second half of 2020.” 

Mr Hodgson said that the master site plan would be released publicly ‘as soon as we have confidence it is accurate’.

He said the key outstanding issue was the latest geotechnical data, which will more accurately pinpoint where ground conditions change, and therefore where each building is likely to be constructed. 

“The smart money is that the larger inpatients building will be to the south, on the Cadbury’s block, and the smaller day surgery and outpatients building – along with several other smaller buildings – will be to the north.

"However, it is better to wait until this latest information is to hand before making the full plan public.

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