TWO new centres providing emergency care and outpatient clinics for children are to be built in the north and south of Dublin by the middle of 2016.
One of the centres will be built on the grounds of Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown and the other will be on the campus of Tallaght Hospital.
Both facilities, costing a total of €50m, will be so-called “satellite centres” of the new national children’s hospital, which is to be built on the site of St James’s Hospital in the south inner city.
Health Minister James Reilly announced the two locations yesterday and said they would be ready more than two years before the hospital was built.
The locations followed an analysis of criteria such as child population, levels of deprivation, accessibility, clinical advantages, suitability of the site and cost.
It means, however, that the Mater Hospital, which was to be the original site for the children’s hospital, has lost out on what might be a “consolation prize”, as has Beaumont Hospital, which would be mostly used by the minister’s constituents.
Currently children attend emergency units in the three existing children’s hospitals in Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght, but this will end when all three merge to be part of the new hospital at St James’s.
The proposed urgent care sites were given the go-ahead by the Cabinet yesterday and followed consultation with the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board overseeing the new children’s hospital as well as paediatricians.
Dr Reilly said each centre would provide consultant-delivered urgent care with observation beds where children can spend up to six hours as well as diagnostics such as X-rays and laboratory back-up.
“The vast majority of young people treated will be treated and discharged. Critically ill and injured children will be stabilised by appropriately trained staff and transferred to the main site, using a retrieval and transport service if required.”
He estimated the emergency centres would see around 50,000 attendances annually. They will also house outpatient clinics for another 30,000 with services for children who have long-term health conditions and are stable.
Plans to provide day surgery in the clinics have been shelved and the plan is to have doctors visiting the main regional hospitals to carry out the operations locally instead.
Planning permission has yet to be obtained for the new centres.
Meanwhile, the national children’s hospital has also yet to obtain planning permission. The hope is to have secured permission by early next year with construction beginning in the spring.
The site is being decanted and pre-planning applications are under way. The aim is to have the hospital finished by 2018 and begin the transfer of services from the three existing children’s hospitals later that year.