Review backs Mater site for new children's hospital
THE Mater Hospital in Dublin is to be the location of the new national children's hospital.
Health Minister James Reilly yesterday confirmed the location of the new hospital, signalling an end to the controversy which has dogged the project since the Mater was chosen as the site in 2006.
The recommendation is made in an expert report which he commissioned, paving the way for planning permission for the hospital to be submitted in weeks.
The site has been at the centre of bitter wrangling since it was chosen, amid accusations that it will leave parents and visitors with serious access problems.
The report, to be brought to Cabinet today, will seek to finally end the debate, although it will recommend changes to the design of the plans for the hospital.
In particular, it calls for 16 storeys in the original plan to be reduced, while other changes are also suggested.
The key problem facing Dr Reilly will be funding and trying to reduce the projected bill of €650m for the facility, which is scheduled to open in 2015.
It will also mean the three existing children's hospitals will close and merge under one roof, with space for around 445 beds.
The review team was made up entirely of experts from abroad, eliminating any accusations of bias.
The first review involved a financial analysis of the project. It was carried out by John Cooper, a UK architect who has worldwide experience of hospital design.
His analysis took two weeks and examined the costs of building, equipping and running of the hospital.
He also compared the Mater project with the costs of other proposed sites.
His report was given to four international experts.
They looked at the clinical merits or otherwise of locating the hospital next to an adult hospital and whether they outweighed any cost differentials or design issues, including the concerns about access and the traffic problems in the north inner city.
The review team included the chief executives of hospitals in Boston and Colorado in the US, as well as Queensland, Australia.
Dr Jane Collins, head of Great Ormond St Hospital in London was also on the team.
Planning permission has yet to be submitted for the proposed hospital and it will be early next year before any decision is likely to be made by An Bord Pleanala.
The clinical experts did not charge any fees for the review; while the architect was paid €70,000 plus VAT.