€1bn cost of hospital 'must be explained'
The spiralling bill for the new National Children's Hospital - now expected to cost at least €1bn - must be explained, Labour health spokesman Alan Kelly has said.
Kelly has demanded that Health Minister Simon Harris tell TDs why the cost has risen by more than €300m from an estimated €650m now that the preferred bidder to build the hospital has been selected.
He said that the ultimate cost will be €1.2bn after the hospital is kitted out with equipment and IT.
Kelly warned that other capital spending in the health service may suffer as a result and raised fears about funding for the planned National Maternity Hospital. He called on Harris to make a statement to the Dail setting out "why these costs have escalated" and "whose fault it is".
Increased construction costs due to the improving economy have been blamed for the rising cost of the project, which has a controversial history.
A site at St James's Hospital was selected after a previous location at the Mater Hospital was rejected by planners. Campaigners still argue it should be located at Connolly Hospital, in Blanchardstown.
The Irish Times reported that building firm BAM Ireland has been selected as the preferred bidder for the project. That is subject to a 14-day cooling-off period in case of objections or legal hurdles.
A Department of Health spokesman said that the children's hospital board completed an evaluation of tenders for construction work that includes two offshoot care centres in Connolly and Tallaght hospitals.
Proposed costs are included in a business case to be reviewed by the HSE and the department before being considered by the Government in the coming weeks. The department continues to work to "ensure that we deliver the world-class hospital".