An already stretched Nelson Hospital is still earmarked for redevelopment, but what it will involve remains unknown. Photo: File.

Why we need a new hospital


With a major redevelopment of Nelson Hospital on the cards, Kate Russell looks at exactly where the $120 million project is at and how the hospital is coping in the meantime.

Why does our hospital need redeveloping?

The two main buildings of Nelson Hospital are over 40-years-old and have been assessed as prone to earthquake impact. While the buildings will stay standing in the event of a major earthquake, their functionality would be greatly reduced.

Nelson’s population is also aging and growing, bringing with it increasingly complex health issues which will raise the demand on an already stretched hospital system.

Eric Sinclair, general manager finance performance and facilities, says changes in the way healthcare is delivered and advances in technology have evolved medical practices.

These changes and the opportunities they present cannot be realised and accommodated within the hospital’s current configuration.

When would the redevelopment happen?

There is currently no timing for when the development would happen, as the planning process will take some time.

It will consist of several business cases – as required by central Government – to cover strategic, commercial and financial consideration. The DHB says the project will cost between $120- $150 million.

Eric says they are currently working through the indicative business case process to secure agreement with the Government that investment in the hospital is required.

What would the redevelopment include?

The physical form the redevelopment will take is still very unknown. The indicative business case update will set out a long list of development options, from which a short list will be chosen and then further analysed.

This could include maximising the reuse of current building on the Nelson site, to, at the other end of the spectrum, a total greenfield redevelopment away from the current campus.

How is the hospital coping in the meantime?

Lexie O’Shea, general manager clinical services says the number of beds available in Nelson Hospital fluctuates daily and they are sometimes required to enact capacity escalation plans.

This means using the day-stay admission unit for overnight needs, using adult flexi-beds in the paediatric ward, transferring staff between Wairau and Nelson, calling in additional staff, using beds in other facilities and working with GPs, private practitioners, home-based providers and hospices.

Lexie says they are in the process of advertising for staff to permanently open a new unit called the Medical Admissions and Planning Unit. This will add a further 10 beds to the hospital and will open 1 July this year.

When was the late time the hospital was upgraded?

The last major work was completed in 2003 and included the new in-patient building with a 14-bed maternity unit, 30-bed medical unit, 12-bed paediatrics in-patient unit, chapel and cafe, at a cost of $35.5 million.

Will the hospital still be getting more public car parking soon?

Last year, Nelson Weekly reported that there were plans to expand the public car park with the NMDHB confirming more parking was on the way. A communications spokesperson says there is no update on this yet.