Wednesday 18 October 2017

Long-awaited €1bn children's hospital to finally get green light

Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The construction of the new national children's hospital is expected to get the final green light by the Cabinet tomorrow.

It follows an official examination of the projected costs of nearly €1bn to build the state-of-the art hospital on the site of St James's hospital.

The costs, submitted by the National Paediatric Development Board and Project team, also cover construction of the satellite centres in Connolly Hospital and Tallaght Hospital.

The official go-ahead would allow for the construction to get underway by BAM Ireland, one of the State's largest building contractors.

The main hospital will be seven storeys high with the majority of the building sitting at four storeys.

It features:

380 single in-patient rooms;

42 beds in critical care unit;

18 neonatal critical care units.

However, strong opposition remains to the selection of the St James's site, particularly by the Connolly for Kids group.

The aim is to have the new hospital ready by 2021. It will amalgamate Temple Street, Our Lady's Hospital Crumlin and the National Children's Hospital, Tallaght.

The proposed hospital, which has been dragging on for many years, eventually got planning permission in April last year.

The costs, which originally put at €650m, have since risen. The current cost includes construction inflation, which is running at higher than 9pc.

Competitive

Health Minister Simon Harris has said: "The final proposed construction cost is actually within 5pc of projections and the successful party was the one with the most competitive tender."

But the construction tender does not include equipment, which will be funded through annual operational expenditure, or computer costs. These elements of the project will have to be funded and procured separately and will add several hundred millions to the bill.

The satellite centres may be ready at the end of next year.

They will provide urgent care paediatric services, including short stay observation beds, and outpatients clinics for general paediatrics.

Children with broken bones will be treated at the centres.

They will care for children who have a common, minor illness or injury which cannot be managed by a GP and does not require the acute services of an emergency.

But the Connolly for Kids group insists it would be safer for patients to build it on the site of Connolly Hospital.

The Rotunda maternity hospital is to re-locate to the Connolly site in the coming years.

It would have space for expansion over the next 100 years, accessibility for ambulances and helicopters, good public transport and road links to the whole country.

Retired cancer specialist Dr Fin Breatnach has claimed the St James's site will disadvantage nine out of 10 children who live outside the M50.

Irish Independent

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