Dunedin City Councillors vow to fight Government over changes to new hospital design

Dunedin City Councillors say they're "ready to march" in the streets in protest over Government changes to the city's new hospital design.

The councillors have approved the use of $130,000 to pay for a public campaign against the downgraded redesign announced late last year.

Dunedin's decision makers going on the attack.

"We need to fight like hell for our community, for our people, for our city and our wider region," said Dunedin City Councillor Christine Garey.

They've voted to use $130,000 of ratepayers' money to fight central Government over design cuts.

"I basically say to the Government: spine up and build the facility that the business case calls for," said Dunedin City Councillor Jim O'Malley.

Some construction is underway but proposed cuts include reducing the number of inpatient beds from 410 to 398 and reducing MRI scanners from two to one.

Both proposals have options to build more later but the changes remove two operating theatres from the design altogether.

The fighting fund is spearheaded by former Labour Cabinet Minister and current Dunedin City Councillor David Benson-Pope.

"What is clear here is that redesign equals risk," he said.

The Government promised to start the build three years ago but it didn't and now the project isn't due to be completed until 2029.

When Tuesday's meeting started Andrew Little was the Health Minister. So we asked his office for a response.

By the time we heard back, Little was out and Ayesha Verrall was in. The new minister says she's not yet up to speed with the situation.

"They have watched the Government delay, delay and delay and now the capacity cuts from the business case that Labour approved are making people very angry," said National MP Michael Woodhouse.

City councillors vowed to take the fight from the chamber to the streets.

"I'm getting ready to march again, I'm getting ready to paint my placards and I think I'll start with 'Health Cuts Don't Heal'," said Dunedin City Deputy Mayor Sophie Barker.

Fighting words to save the hospital Dunedin was promised.