Saturday 16 February 2019

Spiralling €1.4bn bill for new hospital is 'disturbing'

Costly: work is underway at the site of the new Children’s Hospital. Photo: Mark Condren
Costly: work is underway at the site of the new Children’s Hospital. Photo: Mark Condren
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The escalation in the construction cost of the new national children's hospital to €1.4bn is "disturbing", causing delays to other health projects and also affecting more Government departments, the Oireachtas Health Committee will be told today.

Some €130m will have to be generated through philanthropy sources.

Officials from the Department of Health and the HSE will be grilled on what level of oversight was in place as the bill for the hospital mounted.

Colm Desmond, assistant secretary of the Department of Health, will state €50m will have to be sliced from the capital budget of all departments.

He warns: "To complete the build of the hospital and outpatients and urgent care centres, an additional €450m will have to be found over the period 2019 to 2022, including an additional €100m in 2019."

This demands €320m net additional Exchequer funding and an extra €130m in philanthropy funding.

Dean Sullivan, deputy director general of the HSE, states that in terms of oversight a Programme Board is chaired by the secretary general of the Department of Health, Jim Breslin. Its responsibility includes funding.

A steering group, of which he has been chairman since May, receives monthly progress reports on the capital project and it updates the Programme Board.

He said the outcome of the second phase of the new hospital is "considerably in excess of that envisaged following the initial tender process".

"As has been noted, this escalation in costs is of significant concern and will undoubtedly impact on other priority health investments," he said.

An independent review of the escalation in costs is due to report in March. Mr Breslin will not attend today's hearing due to a prior commitment. The secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure, Robert Watt, has also declined to attend. He said it would be "impractical" for his department to do so as they already attend the Budgetary Oversight Committee and most hearings of the Public Accounts Committee.

Irish Independent

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