Cost of national maternity hospital to soar
The cost of building a new national maternity hospital on the grounds of St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin is set to soar beyond its original €150m price tag in the wake of delays over how the new facility will be run.
Internal documents, seen by the Irish Independent, reveal the extent of concern by the HSE as the row over the relocation of the hospital - from Holles St in the south city to St Vincent's in Elm Pk, Dublin 4 - got bogged down in a dispute over governance.
HSE head of estates Jim Curran warned more than a year ago about the "major programme and cost implications," documents released under Freedom of Information reveal.
St Vincent's wants to have the major say on how the maternity hospital would be governed- but it has been resisted by senior executives and the board of the maternity facility who want to maintain independence.
When the move to St Vincent's was first announced in 2013 the cost was put at €150m.
But senior HSE executives repeatedly warned at meetings of the project board that construction costs' inflation would push up the cost the longer it is delayed. Construction costs' inflation this year will be up to 7.5pc but a planning application for the new hospital has not yet even been submitted.
Former Labour Relations chief Kieran Mulvey was recently asked to act as mediator between in the two sides in a last-ditch bid to secure agreement and allow the plans for the much-needed new maternity hospital to proceed.
A spokesperson for the National Maternity Hospital said yesterday that discussions and "serious engagement" is ongoing. A spokesman for St Vincent's also said the talks were continuing.
However, the row has meant that the original schedule for the new hospital, announced in 2013, has had to be re-drawn and plans to have it ready by 2018 have had to be revised.
The existing building in Holles St, built in 1894, is no longer fit for purpose and is not suitable to meet the demands of modern maternity care for the 9,000 births it delivers annually.
The documents reveal the HSE emphasised the need to be ready to submit planning permission in the last quarter of last yaer.
But it is still unclear when this application will be possible.
There is also no confirmation that the hospital will be built on the site of St Vincent's. If the current talks fail it will be necessary to find another site.