herald

Thursday 23 November 2017

€1bn National Children's Hospital finally set to get green light from Cabinet

Artists’ impressions of the new National Children’s Hospital
Artists’ impressions of the new National Children’s Hospital

The construction of the new National Children's Hospital is expected to get the final green light by the Cabinet tomorrow.

It follows an official examination of the projected costs of nearly €1bn to build the state-of-the art hospital on the site of St James's Hospital.

The costs, submitted by the National Paediatric Development Board and Project team, also cover construction of the satellite centres in Connolly Hospital and Tallaght Hospital.

The official go-ahead will allow for the construction to get underway.

Opposition

The main hospital will be seven storeys high, with the majority of the building sitting at four storeys, and features:

- 380 single inpatient rooms.

- 42 beds in critical care unit.

- 18 neonatal care units.

However, strong opposition remains to the selection of the St James's site, particularly by the Connolly For Kids group.

The aim is to have the new hospital - which will amalgamate Temple St, Our Lady's Hospital Crumlin and the National Children's Hospital, Tallaght - ready by 2021.

The project, which has been dragging on for many years, eventually got planning permission in April last year.

The costs, which were put at €650m in 2014, have escalated.

The current cost includes construction inflation, which is now running at higher than 9pc.

"The final proposed construction cost is actually within 5pc of projections and the successful party was the one with the most competitive tender," said Health Minister Simon Harris.

But the construction tender does not include equipment, which will be funded through annual operational expenditure or computer costs.

These elements of the project will have to be funded and procured separately and will add several hundred more million to the final bill.

The satellite centres may be ready at the end of next year.

Services will include urgent care paediatric services, including short-stay observation beds, and outpatients clinics such as general paediatrics and orthopaedics for fracture clinics.

They will care for children and young people who have a common, minor illness or injury that cannot be managed by a GP but does not require the emergency services.

The Connolly For Kids group claims it would be safer for patients to build it on the site of Connolly Hospital.

This is in light of the plans to relocate the Rotunda maternity hospital to the Connolly site in the coming years.

They argue that Connolly would also have space for expansion over the next 100 years, accessibility for ambulances and helicopters, good public transport and road links to the whole country.

Disadvantage

It could also provide adequate, safe parking and therapeutic parkland for families and staff.

They say parking provided in St James's is less than what was available at Crumlin Hospital alone in 2010.

Retired cancer specialist Dr Fin Breatnach said it will disadvantage nine out of 10 children who live outside the M50.

He said the St James's site is riddled with construction complexities and that he thought it was impossible to envisage a fully functioning opening on schedule there.

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