Tuesday 21 November 2017

Beaumont eyes move to site beside child hospital

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

ONE of the country's largest hospitals has begun talks on the possibility of moving to a planned €1.2bn medical hub which would also be home to a new national children's hospital.

The move comes after the Irish Independent earlier this month revealed that Health Minister James Reilly is seriously considering the €1.2bn hub at Belcamp, near Dublin Airport, as a solution to the children's hospital headache and as a wider stimulus plan.

The site, around the Belcamp area at the end of the M50, is being floated as a strong possibility as part of a larger health, business and education campus.

A spokesman for Beaumont Hospital on the northside of Dublin told the Irish Independent it had started to engage with "a number" of interested parties in the past week on moving there -- but stressed the talks were at an exploratory stage.

He also said the Belcamp idea "offers considerable merits".

It is understood the other parties include the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI), which operates training within Beaumont, and Fingal County Council.

The Belcamp development, as envisaged, would be between 400 and 500 acres in size, and may also include pharmaceutical and IT companies and third-level institutions, with the RCSI mentioned by sources. A possible rail link provided by a DART spur to Dublin Airport has also been mentioned.

At the moment, a review group led by former HSE chairman Frank Dolphin is examining submissions on where to build the new children's hospital.

A spokeswoman for the RCSI itself said it has not made a submission to the Dolphin Group, but refused to say if anyone inside the RCSI has made personal submissions favouring Belcamp.

The Dolphin Group was due to present a report to Dr Reilly this week, but it was given a deadline extension of two weeks because of the large number of sites and increased workload.

The Beaumont Hospital spokesman last night said it had begun exploring the plans for the review group.

Cautious

"In the past week, and with a view to informing the work of the Dolphin Review Group, Beaumont Hospital has engaged with a number of interested parties to explore the potential of a medical campus at Belcamp to enhance the capacity to serve the regional health needs of the north Dublin area as well as the national, supra-regional and specialist roles currently delivered at Beaumont," the statement said.

"The concept offers considerable merits and that exploratory work is ongoing."

However, some sources struck a cautious note and said the hospital is keeping all its options open.

"There is an element of this being driven from the political end of the Department of Health," a source said.

"And the hospital is conscious that it is the hospital serving most of his (Dr Reilly's) constituency, so it doesn't want to p*** him off.

"But there are some in there who are very enthusiastic about it."

Irish Independent

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