Sunday 26 May 2019

Construction inflation to hit price of maternity hospital

 

Minister for Health Simon Harris briefed Cabinet. Photo: Arthur Carron
Minister for Health Simon Harris briefed Cabinet. Photo: Arthur Carron
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The €300m cost of the new national maternity hospital is expected to be the next major public project to fall victim to construction inflation.

The price of the hospital, which is to be built on the site of St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin, could be substantially higher.

It comes as Health Minister Simon Harris yesterday briefed the Cabinet on plans to proceed with the hospital's car park and pharmacy.

A further announcement about the development of the much-needed facility is due later this week.

There remains concern about the manner in which the hospital will be run and governed.

In a recent response to Social Democrat TD Róisín Shortall, Mr Harris said: "My department is currently engaging with the hospitals in relation to the legal framework required to protect the State's investment in the new hospital.

"In those circumstances, it is not appropriate for me to provide any detailed comment on the issues at hand.

"However, in broad terms, there are three substantive issues to be finalised: confirmation of the withdrawal of the Sisters of Charity from the St Vincent's Healthcare Group; ensuring that the new hospital remains in public ownership; and making sure that there is a robust and modern governance system in place to protect the State's interest."

The new hospital is not expected to be completed until well into 2023 at the earliest, a year later than first anticipated. Construction is set to begin in 2020. Enabling works were due to start at the site by the end of this year.

Tenders have also been received and evaluated for site preparatory works comprising construction of the multi-storey car-park extension and the new pharmacy block.

Meanwhile, funding for assisted human reproduction treatments, such as IVF, has been approved by the Finance Minister.

The allocation is included in the revised estimates which outline an overall increase of €62m in spending compared to what was outlined on Budget day.

There will also be funding for the National Sexual Health Strategy and Healthy Ireland strategy.

Irish Independent

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