Green light for €160m new private hospital
Developer ordered to pay €1m in levies
THE developers of a private women and children's hospital have been ordered to pay more than €1m in levies before construction work on the new facility can begin.
An Bord Pleanala yesterday granted planning permission to the Beacon Medical Group for a new €160m facility in Sandyford, south Dublin, beside its existing hospital.
However, the decision is subject to payment of €1m to fund new roads as well as hundreds of thousands to pay for the Luas extension -- which will serve the hospital -- and the upgrading of sewerage works.
The 127-bed hospital will be built by Landmark Developments on behalf of the Beacon Medical Group. Although privately operated, the hospital will also be open to public patients.
The developers said it would deliver maternity services to public patients if the Health Service Executive (HSE) was willing to pay for it.
"The women's and children's hospital at Beacon would be happy to enter a service level agreement with the HSE to alleviate the present and future capacity issues that are evident in the system," a spokesman told the Irish Independent.
Last night, the HSE said it would meet with the developers of the hospital if approached.
"We would be open to discussion with any healthcare provider on how services can be provided for patients," a spokeswoman said.
Ireland's high birth rate is placing severe pressure on the country's maternity hospitals, with the three Dublin units -- Holles Street, the Coombe and the Rotunda -- overstretched.
Recent figures from the EU found that 16.8 infants were born per 1,000 inhabitants last year compared with an EU average of 10.7, resulting in chronic overcrowding in hospitals.
The Master of the Rotunda has warned that 9,000 babies a year are being delivered in the hospital -- which is designed to accommodate just 6,000.
The Beacon Medical Group said that its new hospital would create 550 construction jobs, with 450 people employed when the building is complete.
The project will be built on the site beside the existing Beacon Hospital, and is to include 127 single en-suite patient rooms, divided into paediatric, maternity and gynaeocology wards, supported by six delivery rooms, 12 neonatal intensive-care and special-care beds, four theatres, 30 day-care beds, eight urgent-care beds and 16 consultant/general clinical suites.
There will be 24-hour obstetrician, neonatal and anaesthesia coverage.
The developers say that within the proposed catchment area there are 2.1 million people, with one in four under 19 years of age.
The Beacon Medical Group had stated that construction of the new hospital would take 30 months and would start once planning permission was granted -- meaning the hospital should be completed in 2013.
It estimates it will deliver 20,000 babies a year by 2020.
The original scheme for the hospital was refused permission because of insufficient drainage and water facilities in the area. Revised plans were lodged, but local residents objected because of the lack of an overall plan to develop Sandyford.
However, an Bord Pleanala granted permission for the 11-storey hospital and a nine-storey medical campus as issues surrounding drainage and traffic had been addressed.
Among other reasons for granting permission, it cited the national shortage of maternity bedspaces and the importance of the hospital to the greater Dublin area.