Sunday 21 January 2018

New children's hospital boss 'will not tolerate medical politics'

Eilish Hardiman: new CEO tasked with driving forward long-delayed hospital
Eilish Hardiman: new CEO tasked with driving forward long-delayed hospital

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

HEALTH Minister James Reilly has said "medical politics" would not be tolerated at the new national children's hospital, which he is confident will be built by 2018.

He was speaking after announcing that Eilish Hardiman has been appointed chief executive of the Children's Hospital Group, whose task is to drive forward the long-delayed hospital.

Ms Hardiman previously oversaw the proposed development when it was due to be built on the Mater hospital campus but left to take over the running of Tallaght Hospital.

The new facility, for which planning permission has yet to be obtained, will see the merging of the existing children's hospitals in Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght into one complex. It will be built on the grounds of St James's hospital.

The row over where it should be built has already delayed its progress by many years and exposed deep divisions between the three hospitals which will eventually have to work as one.

Dr Reilly said the bad experiences of previous new hospitals – where existing facilities had merged – would not be repeated.

He did not specify any names but many of the problems experienced by Tallaght hospital were linked to the failure of the Adelaide and Meath hospitals to let go of their previous independence and work together.

Dr Reilly said there would have to be cohesion when the new complex opened. Asked about funding, he declined to say how much it would cost.

However, he said he was "absolutely committed" to ensuring it was funded and pointed to the indicators that Ireland was recovering. Some of the funding is due to come from the sale of the National Lottery.

It will be early summer next year before a planning application is submitted and this will take another six months before a decision is made by An Bord Pleanala.

If planning permission is granted, the next step is to tender for construction companies to build the several-storeys-high complex – but it could be the end of 2015 before it is "shovel ready". Building is likely to take three years, so it is not expected to be completed until late 2017 or early 2018 and it will then take more time to fit it out and make it ready to accept the child patients.

Dr Reilly said he was confident that lessons had been learnt since planning permission to build it at the Mater site was turned down.

People of major experience in the construction and building industry were now on the boards overseeing its development, he said.

Irish Independent

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