Tuesday 20 March 2018

Children's hospital frontrunner hits out at 'dirty tricks'

Fionnan Sheahan, Eilish O'Regan and Lise Hand

ST JAMES'S Hospital has hit back against an anonymous dirty tricks campaign spreading inaccurate information about its bid to become the location for the children's hospital.

The frontrunner to win the race to house the new facility was forced last night to dismiss allegations about the size of the site on offer. The move came as it emerged the Government may also develop a site at the back of the nearby Coombe Hospital to house additional medical facilities in the future.

This site would possibly accommodate college and private sector research facilities associated with the children's hospital.

The Government is due to decide upon the location next week with St James's believed to be edging out Connolly Hospital in west Dublin, which has more land available.

But St James's issued a lengthy and detailed statement last night counteracting a slur campaign against its bid.

"I understand that some incorrect information about the St James's Hospital NPH proposal has been circulated anonymously to a large number of media outlets," a spokesman said.

Seeking to ensure there was accurate information circulating about its bid, St James set out the details of its facilities, particularly the size of the site.

"The proposed 15.5-acre site is capable of accommodating 188,500 square metres -- exceeding the target set by the Review Group. It is capable of accommodating a National Children's Hospital, associated parent/ guardian accommodation, a maternity hospital and has space for future related service expansion," it said.

It is not clear who exactly was spreading the inaccurate information on its bid, and the spokesman did not say who he believed was responsible.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore says the decision on the location of the children's hospital would be made "in the best interests of the children of the country".

The children's hospital was not on the agenda at yesterday's Cabinet meeting, but Mr Gilmore said it would be considered shortly.

St James's Hospital is currently the Government's favourite, provided it can overcome planning concerns.

Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, Co Dublin, is also a frontrunner largely because it has the land for development, with the Coombe an outside bet.

Speaking on his way into Government Buildings, the Tanaiste said the Government would not discuss the decision and the report by the Dolphin Group yesterday.

Irish Independent

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