Monday 19 February 2018

Naming of children's hospital already fans flames of controversy

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD and Health Minister Simon Harris turn the first sod for the new Paediatric Outpatients and Urgent Care Centre on the grounds of Connolly Hospital, with James Mohan, Ashleigh Kiernan, Matilda Kiernan, and Isabel Kiernan, from the Youth Advisory Council
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD and Health Minister Simon Harris turn the first sod for the new Paediatric Outpatients and Urgent Care Centre on the grounds of Connolly Hospital, with James Mohan, Ashleigh Kiernan, Matilda Kiernan, and Isabel Kiernan, from the Youth Advisory Council

Eilish O'Regan and Kevin Doyle

What's in a name? The newly christened National Children's Hospital complex, which will be known as Phoenix Children's Health, is already dividing opinion.

The umbrella name for the €1bn hospital and two satellite centres in Dublin was unveiled yesterday after months of brainstorming and consultation.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Simon Harris announced the title when they turned the sod in one of the satellite centres at Connolly Hospital in Dublin.

The unusual choice of name for the complex - from a pool of 300 suggestions - was defended by the board of the hospital.

It follows a flash of inspiration from a health worker in Temple Street Hospital, seven roadshows and a review by six focus groups over nine months.

They were drawn from the staff of the three existing hospitals, regional paediatric units and the children's hospital group.

A spokeswoman said the phoenix was invoked because it is a symbol of renewal, inspiration, vision, hope, growth and regeneration.

"It is easy to pronounce and translates as 'Féinics' in Irish," she said.

The main hospital, which is being built at St James's Hospital campus, and is due to open in 2022, will be known as Phoenix Children's Hospital Ireland.

The satellite units, which each comprise an outpatients department and urgent care unit, will be called Phoenix Children's at Tallaght and Phoenix Children's at Connolly.

The Connolly centre will open in 2019 and the Tallaght centre in 2020.

The new complex - first mooted back in 1993 - will amalgamate the three existing children's hospitals in Temple Street, Crumlin and Tallaght.

The long-awaited hospital, which has been rescued from the ashes after being turned down for planning permission at the Mater Hospital in 2012, has been beset by setbacks for well over a decade.

The neutral title also diplomatically side-steps having to include the names of any of the existing hospitals.

If precedent is anything to go by, the hierarchy of names would cause inevitable controversy over which should come first.

One of the key challenges in the future will be getting the three hospitals to operate as a unit under one roof and reduce the risk of rivalries which marred the efficiency of other similar mergers in the past.

Speaking at the ceremony at Connolly Hospital, the Taoiseach, who was in his own constituency, said: "I worked here in 2004 and 2005 and it was a very happy time."

Health Minister Simon Harris said the naming of the hospital marks "a new era in paediatric healthcare development".

"This unit will open in only 21 months so really this project is getting very real now," he said.

Asked about the decision of the hospital board to appeal a number of conditions attached to the fire safety certificate, issued by Dublin City Council, he said: "My response to this is very clear. The national children's hospital and the board have gone above and beyond in ensuring that this world-class hospital will exceed fire safety standards."

He insisted it "is certainly not an issue of cost from the Government", adding: "It's a project of nearly €1bn in terms of investment from the taxpayer so we can deliver a world-class hospital for children right across this country. The issue of cost will not arise."

Mr Harris said that whatever An Bord Pleanála decides will be followed by the developers.

"But it's very important to state that this hospital has already been designed to exceed the fire safety standards that are already there," he said.

"It's part of the normal planning process that there's often a back and forth between planners and anybody developing any large project."

Irish Independent

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