Saturday 23 February 2019

Opposition leader calls for an inquiry into rising costs of children’s hospital

The bill for the new hospital has increased from 983m euro to 1.7bn euro in the space of two years, with speculation it could go higher still.

AN artist impression of the new state-of-the-art children’s hospital in Dublin. (Children’s Hospital Group/PA wire)
AN artist impression of the new state-of-the-art children’s hospital in Dublin. (Children’s Hospital Group/PA wire)

By Rebecca Black, Press Association

Opposition leader Micheal Martin has called for an inquiry over the rising costs of the new National Children’s Hospital.

The bill for the hospital, which is currently under construction at the St James’s Hospital site in Dublin, is expected to be at least 1.7 billion euro.

It spiralled from 983m euro to 1.4bn euro in the space of less than two years.

However, another 300m euro is needed to cover extras such as the IT system.

Mr Martin told the Dail on Tuesday that he understands the bill could reach 2bn euro before the new hospital is due to open its doors in 2022.

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Taoiseach leader Varadkar responded to calls for an inquiry into the spiralling costs of the new children’s hospital during Leaders Questions. (Oireachtas/PA wire)

He queried the “extraordinary escalation” of costs during Leaders’ Questions.

“In 2016, you as minister for health announced the cost of the hospital would be 650m euro all in, including inflation, VAT and contingency,” Mr Martin put to Leo Varadkar.

“At the same time you said short of an asteroid hitting the hospital would be built in 2020.

“A year later that 650m figure became 980m, in 2018, it became 1.7bn.

“This is extraordinary stuff.

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An artist impression issued by Children’s Hospital Group of proposed family accommodation block at the site of the new state-of-the-art children’s hospital in Dublin

“Despite the near trebling, we have had no satisfactory explanation or accountability.

“It beggars belief, it reveals a chronic lack of political oversight in terms of the approach to the expenditure on this project.”

Mr Martin added: “Do you agree, Taoiseach, that this issue demands an inquiry in public, preferably through an Oireachtas committee with full compellability, openness and transparency?”

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Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has called for an inquiry into the rising costs of the new children’s hospital in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Varadkar emphasised what he termed as the enormous value that the new hospital will bring, a “major improvement in healthcare and paediatric care for our most valuable citizens, our children”.

“I was informed that the costs looked like they were escalating again probably around the end of November and I asked for full information, only got that full information a day or two before that particular Cabinet meeting,” he said.

“Why did it go up, a number of reasons have been explained, construction and inflation, fire safety rules which required a much more expensive sprinkler system, a miscalculation around the cost of electrics and cabling.

“In terms of further inquiries, the Department of Health have retained PWC, the expert accountancy and consulting firm to carry out analysis of this and report back to government in a few months time with more information as to how the costs escalated in the way that they did.”

Press Association

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