Saturday 1 November 2014

€40m 'wasted' on children's hospital plan

Published 14/08/2014 | 02:30

The Mater Hospital were the new childrens hospital is going to be built
Pic:Mark Condren
20.7.2011
The Mater Hospital complex on Dublin’s northside. Photo: Mark Condren

THE doomed bid to build a national children's hospital on the Mater Hospital campus has squandered nearly €40m of taxpayers' money.

The catalogue of waste is revealed in the financial report of the development board set up to oversee the long-delayed project, which is now expected to be built on the site of St James's Hospital instead.

Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy, who examined the 2012 accounts, said that "arising from the government decision to change the location of the hospital", it is likely that these €40m assets "are now impaired".

A spokesman for the board was unable to say yesterday if any of the work paid for in preparation for the Mater site was carried over since the decision was made in November 2012 to build it elsewhere.

The €40m only relates to work associated with construction and does not include the extras spent on payroll or other costs.

The ill-fated hospital has been beset with setbacks and despite the huge investment was turned down for planning permission at the Mater.

An application for planning permission to build it at St James's will not be ready until next year and major question marks still remain over promises to have it built by 2018.

The London-based BDP architects have recently been appointed to design the hospital, along with O'Connell Mahon architects, in Dublin, who were involved in the plan to build it at the Mater.

Announcing the change of location, former Health Minister James Reilly claimed that around €28m of public money already pumped into the project could be salvaged - but this is now unlikely to materialise.

He said the planning risk for the Mater was too high and it had to be abandoned. It has a better chance of getting the go-ahead at St James's, where there is a site of 6.3 hectares.

Demands

The new hospital - costing over €650m - will amalgamate the three existing children's hospitals, which are not fit for purpose to cope with the modern demands of sick children.

The 2012 accounts, signed off by board chairman Tom Costello, reveal two former board members - broadcaster Norah Casey and parents' representative Linda Dillon - received payments of €7,000 each that year, while others waived their entitlement.

It had one full-time and a part-time employee in 2012, costing €251,753.

Irish Independent

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