Saturday 24 February 2018

Three children's hospital staff vote against decision to build new facility on St James' campus

A model of the new children's hospital that was made in August
A model of the new children's hospital that was made in August
A model of the new children’s hospital on a shared campus with St James’s Hospital

Clódagh Sheehy

Staff at the country’s three children’s hospitals have overwhelmingly rejected the decision to build the new hospital on the St James’ campus in Dublin.

A survey of staff at the three existing children's hospitals was carried out by the alliance in October. It found that 84pc of respondents were opposed to the St James's site.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar

The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) objected to the survey being presented at the hearing yesterday, saying it was "cursory" and "entirely unscientific".

In a statement released following the hearing, the NPHDB said 257 individual survey responses were received or collated. In October, 3,447 staff were employed across the three hospitals, representing a response rate of 7.45pc.

It claimed there was no evidence that the 257 figure represented unique individual responses and that the survey may be completed multiple times by any individual.

An Bord Pleanala Inspector Tom Rabbitte noted the objections but allowed healthcare professional Rosemary Dwyer to present the findings to the hearing.

Ms Dwyer said none of the staff at any of the children’s hospitals were consulted about the decision by politicians to locate the new hospital at St James’s.

It had left them with “a sense of powerlessness.  A resignation has descended on us”.

She pointed out that 75pc of children needing specialist care at Crumlin, where she worked, came from outside the M50 and it was impractical to use public transport with a sick child.

Dublin property prices had forced hospital staff to move out into the commuter belt.  Public transport, she added, was often not an option for distance and family considerations

The campus at Connolly hospital offered a large greenfield site and would not be “an artificial world in a concrete jungle”.

She said the survey had been carried out among staff in October and it also showed that 79pc favoured co-location with a maternity hospital and 87pc of staff were concerned about limited parking spaces.

Those who took part in the survey were composed of 19pc administrative staff, 20pc allied healthcare workers, 12pc medical staff, 37pc nurses,7pc others and 5pc had not answered the questions.

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