New children's hospital won't open until 2016
THE opening date for the proposed national children's hospital has been postponed again by a year and will now not take place until 2016, it emerged yesterday.
The 445-bed hospital, due to be built at the Mater hospital in Dublin's north inner city was originally promised in 2012 and then delayed to 2015.
But Health Minister James Reilly admitted yesterday it would be September before any decision was made by the Government on the €450m state funding for its construction.
He was speaking at the launch of the report of a government-commissioned independent review which recommended "unanimously and unequivocally" the "immediate" go-ahead of the Mater plans.
The group was made up of various experts from abroad, including hospital chief executives from the United States, Australia and the UK.
Eilish Hardiman, chief executive of the development board overseeing the project said yesterday it would be ready to submit planning permission in two weeks, fast-tracking it with An Bord Pleanala.
"It should take 14 weeks, including an oral hearing," she said.
Another €200m of the final €650m price tag will have to be raised mainly through charitable donations and funds generated by the car park and other commercial activities.
The new 16-storey hospital will see the merging of existing children's hospitals in Crumlin, Temple St, and Tallaght, which will all close.
The report said yesterday that "in reality there was no perfect site available" for the new hospital.
The team examined alternative sites at Tallaght Hospital, James Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, and Newlands Cross near the M50, offered by developer Noel Smyth.
Although construction costs would be cheaper on the other sites, there was little financial difference when factors such as delay, utility company connections and road upgrades were taken into account. The €24m already spent an the Mater was also a consideration.
On the controversial issue of access to the Mater, they pointed to the good public transport system, the 736-space car park and the fact that parents would travel during off-peak times.
The report was welcomed by hospitals in Temple St, the Mater, and Rotunda, but no statement was issued from Crumlin hospital.
Dr Roisin Healy, of the New Children's Hospital Alliance who are opposed to the Mater, said at the launch: "I don't think the funding is there and I don't think children's rights were put first. We would still be hopeful the voice of sanity for the children of Ireland will persevere."