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Thursday 22 August 2019

Children's hospital faces 'difficulty' in filling project director role

John Pollock. Picture: Tom Burke
John Pollock. Picture: Tom Burke
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

The National Children's Hospital could be mired by further cost escalations from contractors' claims, a shortage of builders and worker resignations.

Leaked Department of Health documents show the outgoing chief officer and project director, John Pollock, said he felt it would also be "extremely difficult" to find someone to replace him.

In response to the revelations, first published in 'Sunday Business Post, the Department of Health said: "Mr John Pollock, CO and project director of the NPHDB since 2014, resigned effective from early June.

"The NPHDB is liaising with the Department of Health in relation to appointing a successor as soon as possible."

The HSE said it could not respond to the documents yesterday and could not expect to until later this week.

The cost of the hospital has increased to €1.4bn and is expected to rise above €2bn before it opens in 2023.

It was reported the incoming project director was being warned about "contractor behaviour" and further costs.

Mr Pollock was said to have submitted two draft business proposals to the department in recent days, stating his role could be split in two.

The documents were reported to have said that the role of chief officer is "extremely challenging" and it would be "extremely difficult to attract suitable candidates".

The role would need to be filled by someone able to display "resilience" as it was expected the project would continue to "attract a high level of controversy" over the next four to five years.

The project would also see potential further issues with contractors looking for extensions at a minimum of €5m a month, a lack of construction workers and contractors disagreeing with provisional payment agreements.

Further potential problems with the hospital's design were also flagged, and it was believed medical staff could try to push through changes to the proposals.

It was suggested there be an "uplift" in the salary for the person or persons taking over Mr Pollock's role. His salary is €156,978.

Irish Independent

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