Saturday 17 March 2018

New National Children's Hospital 'to be secular'

Health Minister Simon Harris Photo: Julien Behal
Health Minister Simon Harris Photo: Julien Behal
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The new National Children's Hospital, due to be opened in 2022, will be owned by the HSE and will be secular in its operation, Health Minister Simon Harris has insisted.

He was speaking as the legislation to establish the State body to run the new hospital was published.

The hospital will be built on the site of St James's Hospital and will merge the three existing hospitals in Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght.

The new €1bn hospital will be overseen by a 12-member board, appointed by the minister of the time.

The minister will nominate four members and the board the rest.

The biggest hurdle is likely to be securing harmony between the three hospitals when they merge in one building.

Previous experience has demonstrated the difficulty of securing enough "give and take" among staff. Temple Street Hospital is owned by the Sisters for Mercy and its future use is a matter for the religious order. The Crumlin Hospital board is chaired by the Archbishop of Dublin.

The building and site will come under the umbrella of the new State body, which will control the new hospital.

The minister would not be drawn on what implications there might be for surplus staff in the new hospital, but said there would be a need to expand the workforce in some areas.

An explanatory note with the legislation said it had not included any definitions of "child" or "paediatric services", because it allowed the hospital flexibility to provide care to young patients over 16 years of age.

The long-awaited hospital has been troubled by setbacks and was initially due to be sited at the Mater Hospital campus.

However, this iteration of the plan failed to secure planning permission.

Irish Independent

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