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Hospital's funding must be clarified

THE murky funding situation of the proposed National Paediatric Hospital (NPH) must be publicly clarified.

The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) was established by Statutory Instrument No 246 of 2007 and signed into law by Mary Harney the day before the last general election.

One of that board's functions was to "explore the possibility of securing philanthropic contributions to meet all, or part, of the capital cost of developing the hospital".

A charitable foundation, set up by the NPHDB, is currently in pre-planning application consultation with An Bord Pleanala.

Concern was expressed (Letters, January 18) that the reason the Foundation, and not the NPHDB itself, is engaging with An Bord Pleanala is that the exchequer contribution towards the hospital's construction costs -- €450m according to Ms Harney -- might in fact have to come from the National Lottery.

While there is nothing unethical per se in genuine philanthropic donations being solicited, the targeting of commercial organisations that stand to gain in the long term by supplying their products or services to the hospital is most undesirable.

By accepting such funding, the state hospital becomes beholden to industry, ethically compromised and subservient in the terms of the relationship.

Prima facia it appears that there is potential for a serious conflict of interest in the children's hospital capital programme for its future managers, researchers and clinicians.

The proposed development of the NPH at the Mater must be an election issue.

Roisin Healy
National Children's Hospital Alliance, Ranelagh, Dublin 6

Irish Independent