Families of sick children will have to pay car park charges
The majority of parents driving to the new national children's hospital in Dublin will have to pay regular car parking charges, it has emerged.
The long-awaited €1bn hospital, which was finally given the go ahead by the Cabinet yesterday, will be built on the campus of St James's Hospital.
When it opens in late 2021 it will be served by 1,000 underground car parking spaces, with 675 for families attending the hospital.
It currently costs up to €5 for up to two hours.
Eilish Hardiman, chief executive of the Children's Hospital Group, said while car parking charges will be at regular rates for the majority, around 100 spaces had a derogation which will allow long-stay families, or those in financial pressure, to pay a discounted fee or no fee.
Around €67m will have to be generated independently, including €20m from fund raising and €47m commercially for car parking and shops.
Health Minister Simon Harris said that construction will begin within weeks and he expects it to come in on time and within budget.
He said: "Today, there is no more doubt. Our children have waited a long time for this new hospital but there is light at the end of the tunnel now."
The project, which has dragging on for more than a decade, has had a tortuous history and plans had to be re-drawn after its original site at the Mater Hospital was turned down for planning permission.
The 12-acre site on the campus has been fully cleared for the hospital which will be the "length of Grafton Street and size of Dundrum Shopping Centre".
It will feature 380 single patient rooms, which are en-suite with a bed for a parent.
There will be 93 day beds and a 53-unit family accommodation facility.
The existing children's hospitals in Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght will close and move to the new facility.
Two satellite clinics will be located in Connolly Hospital and Tallaght Hospital to care for children with minor illness and injuries.
There will also be outpatient and chronic disease clinics.
Bam International was chosen as the developer and it will be under pressure to come in on budget.
The cost, originally put at €650m has jumped by €200m since 2014 as a result of construction inflation, planning delays, and higher than foreseen tendering.
"International benchmarking exercises have demonstrated that the construction cost of the hospital compares favourably with hospitals recently built in the UK, the US and in the Middle East," said John Pollock, project director with the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board.
"It is hard to put into words the positive impact that this new children's hospital will have on the health outcomes and overall welfare of children and young people," said Prof Owen Smith, haematologist at Crumlin Hospital.
Parent Louis Roden, whose two children have cystic fibrosis, spoke of his delight that the "sickest children of Ireland will be treated in a modern, world-class facility".
The Connolly for Kids group, headed by parents and doctors, has criticised the selection of the St James's site.
It wanted it built at the Blanchardstown site, which would, it argued, be more convenient for sick children outside Dublin. But that campaign now looks like it will be finally shelved as the first bricks and mortar are laid.