The Government has approved the redevelopment of Canterbury hospitals in what will be New Zealand's largest ever public health construction project costing over $500 million.
Work will include replacing earthquake-damaged facilities, building new operating theatres and expanding departments.
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee announced on Tuesday that the Cabinet has approved $10 million to fast-track the redevelopment of Burwood Hospital once the final business plan is presented in December this year.
Mr Brownlee says clinicians will contribute to that plan, which will outline the best way to build extra operating theatres, replace 500 beds and expand Christchurch Hospital's intensive care unit and emergency department, as well as providing the new hospital for older people at Burwood.
"It's important that we get high quality design into this and we do want to have appropriate input from the clinical community to make sure we get that."
A steering group is to be appointed to work closely with the Canterbury District Health Board to develop the business case.
The Canterbury Health Systems Clinical Board welcomed the news, but is calling for urgent progress.
It says many current facilities are not fit for purpose and it is vital that the project is not delayed.