Friday 20 April 2018

Rural campaigns set to fight children's hospital at St James

CONCERNED: Dr Roisin Healy is backing Blanchardstown
CONCERNED: Dr Roisin Healy is backing Blanchardstown

Claire McCormack

Two campaigns against the proposed development of the New National Children's Hospital on the St James's Hospital campus will be launched over the coming weeks, the Sunday Independent has learned.

The campaigns, named "Speak Now For Sick Kids" and "Rural Families for Safer Access", will be established by the New Children's Hospital Alliance and interested groups around the country.

Last week, groups from Kerry, Galway and Donegal have expressed interest in building the campaigns and are currently approaching local TDs and councillors for support.

Dr Roisin Healy, a representative of the New Children's Hospital Alliance (NCHA) and a retired consultant paediatrician, said they intend to work closely with people who share the views of their organisation.

"We are trying to act as facilitators to various interest groups, particularly outside the M50, who are asking for the information we've gathered over the years of campaigning against the Mater and St James's sites," she said.

"We intend to help people in the promotion of their cause."

Dr Healy said the NCHA has been flooded with queries since the planning application for a new national paediatric hospital at St James's was officially lodged with An Bord Pleanala last Monday.

Concerns over access for rural families are central to their queries.

"We still believe the Connolly Hospital site in Blanchardstown is the right one. It has huge potential for future development, it is cheaper, more cost-effective and respects the children of families in the city and the country," said Dr Healy.

Separately, Jonathan Irwin, the CEO of the Jack & Jill Children's Foundation, intends to mount a €100,000 campaign to oppose the planning application for St James's and push for the Blanchardstown site.

Although Minister for Health Leo Varadkar expects objections to the plans, he says there is huge support behind moving all three existing children's hospitals - Crumlin, Tallaght and Temple Street -to the St James's campus.

Sunday Independent

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