Wednesday 22 August 2018

Experts never suggested Mater as site for hospital

NONE of the international paediatricians consulted about the national children's hospital chose the Mater Hospital in Dublin city centre as the site, the Irish Independent has learned. Paediatric cardiologist Dr Mike Berman said he brought the international panel of paediatricians together for McKinsey consultants which advised on the project.

NONE of the international paediatricians consulted about the national children's hospital chose the Mater Hospital in Dublin city centre as the site, the Irish Independent has learned.

Dr Mike Berman, a paediatric cardiologist in Florida, said he brought the international panel of paediatricians together for McKinsey consultants which advised on the project.

However, Dr Berman said he and the others could only give "generic advice" on the criteria for a top children's hospital and were not "qualified" to pick a site.

The impression has been given that the task force which picked the Mater as the site for the hospital was guided in its decision by these international paediatricians.

However, another member of the panel, Sir Alan Croft, Professor of Paediatrics in the University of Newcastle, revealed last night the group is expected to issue a statement clarifying their role in the coming days. The unprecedented statement is expected to undermine suggestions that they had a significant role in choosing the Mater as the site for the new national children's hospital.

Prof Croft said he is to contact the other paediatricians with a view to clarifying the extent of their involvement in the process.

Although he would not be drawn on the content of the statement, it is expected to clarify they had limited input into the selection of the Mater.

Dr Berman said he would favour putting the new hospital on the site of a major teaching hospital because Ireland's population would not provide the critical mass of patients needed for a stand alone hospital.

"We were asked what were the key things to make the best children's hospital," he said.

"I have been to Ireland a number of times on holiday but am not familiar with the location of hospitals."

The task force has been criticised by both Crumlin and Tallaght Hospitals, which are objecting to the Mater site, for not including any paediatricians among its membership.

The revelations came as Health Minister Mary Harney said she was not willing to have another international review of the decision to pick the Mater despite appeals from Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin.

"I don't believe it is in anybody's interests - particularly the interests of sick children - to go back on this.

"I have been very taken by the number of parents who have said to me 'get on with it'," the Health Minister added.

Commenting on the role of paediatricians in the process, she said with "all due respect" to them they were not experts in accessing a new hospital and on the issue of car parking.

Earlier, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny demanded an immediate, independent review of the process. He said he had a "a deep suspicion" that something was "amiss" with the process.

Review

"I am seriously concerned that two hospitals, Tallaght and Crumlin, have both withdrawn from this process," he said.

"The fact that those decisions were taken, and given the credibility of the personnel involved, has led me to having a deep suspicion that something is amiss with the process as conducted."

A senior specialist said yesterday Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin will accept the Mater site as the location for the new national children's hospital if it is backed by an independent review.

Mary O'Connor of the Children in Hospital group said yesterday that she was gravely concerned at the decision of Crumlin and Tallaght Hospitals to oppose the Mater site.

She also pointed to a lack of information for users of the hospital about the new facility.

Eilish O'Regan and Gene McKenna

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