herald

Friday 15 December 2017

We need new children's hospital now for patients like little Jack (6)

A MOTHER has revealed her major fear is that her sick son will never know the benefit of the long delayed new national children's hospital.

In the midst of the controversy surrounding the planning of a €650m facility at the Mater site, mum-of-two Aisling McNiff has spoken of her anger on behalf of victims of the delayed project -- ill children, including her son, six-year-old Jack.

Jack has cardiac defects, chronic lung disease, pulmonary hypertension, Down syndrome and Cinca Syndrome, a severe chronic inflammatory disease.

His condition is so rare that he is the only person in the world to have been diagnosed with this combination of heath problems.



Wasted

He spent most of the first three years of his life in Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin.

Aisling (38) insists the money "wasted" on planning for a new children's hospital at the Mater, which was refused permission from An Bord Pleanala, could have been used more efficiently.

"Our children with special needs are not going to be around very long and many will not be there to see this new hospital," she told the Herald.

"It makes me sick to see what the Government has denied children in the last few years with their cutbacks when they should have been helping them and they wasted money on a project that was imperfect from the start.

"Hospitals like Crumlin have been forced to close a theatre, other have been forced to close whole wards -- they have beds but they don't have the staff.

"In the meantime, a lot more children have been born, and we have quite a high incidence of children born with heart defects and special needs, so they will have even worse conditions than the previous generations.

"Now the waiting times for children are as long as they are for adults although our children are so vulnerable, they deserve better."

The Kildare mum places part of the blame for the failed project with the previous government for not seriously considering other sites, although she admits that she was "disappointed" to find the coalition still had a preference for the Mater site.

"A great majority of the people consulted during the planning of this new hospital were against the Mater site but it seems like no other location was given serious thought.

"It has been such a waste of time and money, and what scares me is that Health Minister James Reilly is still looking at the Mater site for a new children's hospital (despite planning permission being refused).

"It feels like the Mater site was only considered, probably for political reasons because it happens to be in Bertie's (Ahern) constituency.

"No matter how brilliant this hospital will be, the Mater site is too difficult to access.

"They mentioned getting access through the Luas, but if you have a sick child who has no immune system, you're not going to use public transport to go to the hospital.

"You're not likely to use it either if your child is in a wheelchair or if you live outside the city." Aisling said she had spent the last six years fighting for her son. "It's one battle after another," the former Aer Lingus cabin crew member added.

hnews@herald.ie

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