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Saturday 18 November 2017

Locating national children's hospital at St James's Hospital may 'cost lives'- Oireachtas committee

The Connolly for Kids group outside the Dáil
The Connolly for Kids group outside the Dáil
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Plans to build the new national children’s hospital on the site of St James’s Hospital in Dublin is a grave mistake and could cause the deaths of children, the Oireachtas committee on health was told today.

The Connolly for Kids group , which includes doctors and parents, wants the hospital to be build on the campus of Connolly hospital instead.

They said the Rotunda Hospital maternity is earmarked to move to Connolly.

“Not co-locating the children’s hospital  with a maternity hospital  will result in avoidable deaths and disability of many new-born babies,” they added.

“It is simply not possible to construct a full service maternity hospital at St. James's".

Choosing Connolly as the site for the children’s hospital would also save around €200m.The original price tag for the hospital was €650m but it is now expected to be more expensive due to higher building costs .

They said: “We know this hospital will fail if built in St James’s - with terrible consequences. If you allow it to happen, you will share responsibility for those consequences."

The group were appearing before the committee to debate the proposed site for the hospital which the last government decided will be built at St James’s and is now in the early stages of proceeding.

The decision to relocate the Rotunda Maternity hospital to Connolly was a game- changer - overnight it turned Connolly into the ideal site. Connolly offers 145 acres for tri-location of children's, maternity and adult hospitals.Connolly is on a slip road off the M50/N3 Interchange.

However, the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, which has been tasked with building the hospital, believes St James’s , chosen by An Bord Pleanala, is the best site.

Work is already underway clearing the site and the final bids from builders to build the hospital – with a view to opening its doors in 2020- are due this week.

The board’s John Pollock and Eilish Hardiman told the committee that the Coombe maternity hospital  is relocating to the St James’s site  in time and this will  provide for tri-location of adult, paediatrics and maternity on the one campus.

This is considered the optimal configuration of services from a clinical perspective, they added.They are supported by Dr Sharon Sheehan, master of the Coombe.

The three children’s hospitals believe that St. James’s as the largest and leading adult teaching hospital is the best adult colocation partner for the new children’s hospital, they told the committee,

“This is because of its depth and breadth of sub-specialities that best support paediatrics and it offers unparalleled opportunities between its research facilities and in the new children’s research and innovation centre – which will drive clinical advancements and improved clinical outcomes.”

The board said they recognised the need for most families to drive to the new children’s hospital and that is why there will be 675 parking spaces dedicated to families at the new children’s hospital – treble the amount of parking that is currently provided at the three children’s hospitals combined.

“The new children’s hospital at St. James’s and two Paediatric Outpatients Department and Urgent Care Centres at Tallaght and Connolly Hospitals  will provide children and young people with the right care, in the right place, delivered by the right team.

These new facilities have two core objectives – to  meet the acute paediatrics care needs of the Greater Dublin Area .

This includes  Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow and part of Meath.

"It will undertake this remit via the hospital and the paediatric outpatient clinics and urgent care centres in Tallaght and Blanchardstown.  This encompasses the majority that is 78pc of the work undertaken by the three hospitals.

They said the second objective is to provide specialist services for children across Ireland “ which comprises of 22pc of our work planned.”

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