Sunday 25 March 2018

New delay to children's hospital as opening now pushed back to late 2020

Project Director John Pollock. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Project Director John Pollock. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

Eilish O'Regan and Anne Marie Walsh

The opening date for the proposed new national children's hospital has been delayed again, with the long-awaited facility now not expected to be operational until autumn 2020, it was confirmed yesterday,

It had been hoped it would eventually open its doors at the end of 2019.

A decision on the planning application to build it on the campus of St James's Hospital in Dublin had been due in February.

But the announcement by An Bord Pleanála that it would defer the decision until May meant the timeline for the opening has had to be revised again, project director John Pollock told the Irish Independent yesterday,

He said he hoped the two satellite centres, in Connolly Hospital and Tallaght Hospital, which will be linked to the hospital will open in early 2018.

Mr Pollock said the hospital's development board had also revised the potential cost of the hospital in light of changes in construction inflation.

"At the upper end this would be around €60m," he said.

This is on top of the original estimate of €650m with the additional funding likely to come from the Exchequer.

"It's a factor of how busy the construction industry is. As the economy has improved inflation has grown.

"Next year it could be different again if the European and world economy slow down."

The state-of-the-art facility will incorporate the existing three children's hospitals in Crumlin, Temple St and Tallaght which are outdated with buildings which are not able to meet the modern health needs of children.

"We have just briefed the Department of Health at this stage and not sought any additional funds or anything," he added.

He stressed that the real cost will not become clear until the project goes to competitive tender.

"It will be a case of whether it comes in over-budget or under-budget."

The board will have to examine if it needs additional Exchequer funding and potentially look at whether cuts need to be made in the proposed overall design of the hospital.

"If the Department said there was no more money we would have to work with the funding we have and make changes to the design and maybe not fit out all elements and cut back on finishes internally."

He said last week tenders were issued for the first construction project which involves putting up hoarding around the St James's site and demolishing the buildings.

"If we get a positive decision from An Bord Pleanála we will be able to appoint a contractor from the end of June or start of July. We could then look at tendering the main build."

Irish Independent

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