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Niall Hunter: One thing is sure, we need that hospital SOON

The poll on the new national children's hospital gives a valuable insight into public opinion on this vital but controversial development.

The outgoing Government clearly wasn't going to please everyone with its decision to build the new hospital on the Mater site.

It actually pleased only about one quarter of respondents.

And it also couldn't avoid the charges that the site decision was politically motivated and that the Mater had access problems.

The incoming Government has committed to build the new hospital but hasn't said where.

Fine Gael had indicated during the election campaign that it would review the Mater location.

Now we have proof that the decision location of the new hospital, intended to replace services at Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght, is not going to be an easy one.

While overall, only one quarter of those polled are in favour of the Mater site, there is no great consensus on what would be a good alternative site for the new hospital.

But no one wants to see what is expected to be a vital development in terms of better healthcare for children become a political football.

The option for a completely new site wins out in the poll, but with just a small margin over the Mater option. It's by no means a conclusive result. If there had been 50pc in favour of a new site or Crumlin, for example, questions about the Mater location would have been raised.

There is certainly no evidence of a major groundswell of opinion to locate the hospital on a new site, probably in west Dublin, an option suggested by one pressure group.

The further breakdown of the poll results show a north-south city divide. This is probably not surprising, as most people will want a state-of-the-art hospital built as close to them as possible.



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Someone from north Dublin will prefer the Mater site while south Dublin residents would prefer Tallaght or Crumlin.

However, you can't have a state-of-the-art hospital around the corner from everybody.

The findings of the poll take nothing from the fact that the new hospital has to be built somewhere.

Should we spend five more years arguing about the ideal site while children continue to endure a less-than-perfect hospital service?

Those opposed to the Mater location have raised legitimate concerns about it, but the plans for the hospital are impressive.

You can raise issues about how the site was chosen, but that's essentially past history.

Are the issues regarding parking, access etc so insurmountable that they justify tearing up the plans and starting somewhere else?

The new Government needs to press ahead and give the children of Dublin and the rest of the country what they deserve -- a world-class children's hospital.

Niall Hunter is editor of irishhealth.com