herald

Thursday 16 August 2018

Design team for child hospital project is named

PLANS for the new national children's hospital at St James's hospital inched forward today with the announcement of the design team who will lead the project.

BDP, a company who has already worked on high-profile projects, including the Convention Centre and Bord Gais Energy Theatre, will spearhead designs.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said that everyone was eager to begin work on the healthcare facility with the first phase in situ by 2019.

"We've been promising it and talking about it for far too long," he said. "Let's get building.

Summer

The team are expected to have completed a design by early next summer and put it forward for planning permission. The selection of a team signals that "it's full steam ahead" according to the Health Minister.

The proposed children's hospital will provide "world class" healthcare to young patients.

The facility will host 384 in-patient beds and 85 day-care beds, according to the National Pediatric Hospital Development Board. Tallaght and Blanchardstown will also be the site of the satellite arms of the proposed hospital.

Renowned children's healthcare architect Benedict Zucchi said he has clear vision for the new children's hospital that should be the finest medical facility but with "spaces inside and out where children's creativity and freedom of body and mind thrives".

Meanwhile, CEO of children's charity The Jack and Jill Foundation, Jonathan Irwin raised fresh concerns about the site this morning as he revealed that he has received a third anonymous letter outlining serious concerns from senior staff at St James's Hospital.

Mr Irwin said that the person who wrote the letter wished to remain anonymous.

"[The letter] arrived on my desk yesterday on St James's Hospital writing paper," he said. "He apologises for not being able to reveal who he is."

LOCATION

Staff at the hospital are too scared to speak publicly, according to the founder of the charity.

The person who penned the latest letter said that those concerned feared "coming out front", according to Mr Irwin.

Last month, he revealed that he had received two letters from well-informed people who also raised concerns about the proposed location.

Mr Irwin has been a staunch critic of plans to locate the much-needed hospital at St James' since the Dublin 8 location was announced.

He has called previously on the Government to be "brave" and change the location.

The CEO of the children's charity believes that a state-owned 36-hectare site in Blanchardstown, beside James Connolly Memorial Hospital, would serve as a better location.

hnews@herald.ie

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