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Sunday 9 December 2018

Taxpayers' €2.6m bill for review of children's hospital

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

The four-month delay caused by the decision to review the national children's hospital project will cost up to €2.6m and may mean it will not open until 2016, it emerged yesterday.

Health Minister Dr James Reilly yesterday announced a high-powered team, made up of experts from abroad, will review the cost and site of the proposed 450-bed hospital due to be built on grounds of the Mater in Dublin's north inner city.

But it will be the end of June before it is finalised -- leaving nearly a four-month time lag between the announcement of the review and its completion.

Dr Reilly was warned by his officials that the project is costing up to €650,000 a month.

It now seems certain that the opening date for the hospital will be pushed back by several months and may even not happen until 2016.

The review team is made up entirely of experts from abroad, eliminating any accusations of political bias.

Dr Reilly said the review will first involve a financial analysis of the project that is expected to cost €650m. It will be carried out by John Cooper, a UK architect who has worldwide experience of hospital design.

Mr Cooper said yesterday he will be in Dublin to carry out the work shortly. His analysis will take two weeks.

He will probe the costs involved in staying on the Mater site and also alternative sites. His report will be given to four international experts.

They will look at the clinical merits or otherwise of siting the hospital next to an adult hospital and whether they outweigh any cost differentials or design issues, including concerns about access and traffic problems.

The team includes the chief executives of hospitals in Boston and Colorado in the US as well as Queensland, Australia. Dr Jane Collins, head of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, is also on the team.

Meanwhile, Dr Reilly confirmed that Eilish Hardiman, the current chief executive of the national children's hospital development board overseeing the project at the Mater site, is to leave after being chosen as the new chief of Tallaght Hospital in Dublin.


He said, however, that she will continue in her present role until after the review and will not take up her new job until around August.

Planning permission has yet to be submitted for the proposed hospital and it will be early next year before any decision is likely to be made on it by An Bord Pleanala.

Dr Reilly said the clinical experts are carrying out the review for no fee while the architect will be paid €70,000 plus VAT.

Irish Independent

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