Monday 22 January 2018

Eddie Hobbs: Little hope children's hospital will pull through

A triumph of short-term compromises over long-term plans will derail project

CRITICAL CONDITION: St James’s Hospital in Dublin where the national children’s hospital is set to be built
CRITICAL CONDITION: St James’s Hospital in Dublin where the national children’s hospital is set to be built

Eddie Hobbs

For nearly two decades, the main arterial junction of the capital city of a developed country was a roundabout. Engineers who'd warned that putting a roundabout instead of a tight spaghetti junction would lead to massive disruption to motorists as millions of hours were lost in tailbacks and, in the end would be scrapped having indirectly cost many times more, lost the debate to mandarins who'd argued limited resources.

The need to foresee expansion in demand caused by the building of infrastructure like the M50 and soft planning for population growth was pretty hard learned after the Red Cow debacle – you'd think – after all Ikea, off the M50 was not scrunched into a medieval city centre location. But not so when you factor in the distorting effect of medical lobbies competing for the children's hospital, the location of which might predetermine the overarching question of where to ground Ireland's centre of excellence, the Ark of the Covenant for hospital professionals.

This was never simply about the national children's hospital but about where Ireland ought to locate a tertiary hospital with a level one trauma centre, a pathway to combining three modern hospitals, children, maternity and adult, bristling with leading sub-specialists, research and education and acting as a beacon to attract the best talent available – fit for purpose for up to 100 years. It's a worthy goal, considering that if a visiting dignitary like the Pope, the British monarch, or the US president and their entourage were the target of a terrorist attack leading to very serious injuries, they'd probably need to be evacuated to Belfast.

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