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Children will suffer in hospital location rethink - Varadkar

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Jonathan Irwin. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Jonathan Irwin. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Jonathan Irwin. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Health Minister Leo Varadkar is "very concerned" inordinate delays will be caused to the provision of a new national children's hospital if its location is reconsidered.

The department has stood by the decision to locate the new facility at St James's Hospital following criticism over the weekend.

Minister Varadkar is worried "no child alive will ever have the benefit of a new hospital", the Department of Health said.

A spokesman told the Herald there is no "perfect site" but St James's is "second to none" when it comes to the medical expertise already on campus.

He was commenting after the 2012 decision came in for renewed criticism, with Jonathan Irwin of children's charity the Jack and Jill Foundation calling for a rethink.

He believes traffic congestion at St James's will create accessibility problems for the families of sick children. Mr Irwin also thinks that a site beside Blanchardstown's Connolly Hospital is the better location.

In response, the health spokesman said: "It is widely accepted that one or more of the other sites would have advantages from the point of view of road access, cost and planning.

"But St James's is second to none when it comes to the range of medical facilities and specialist staff already on campus. No other hospital comes close."

The report of the Dolphin group - which considered all the options - found the St James's campus already has the widest range of specialist services on site, he said.

"None of the recent commentary brings any new information to the table. This was all considered by Dolphin and the Government at an earlier stage," the spokesman added.

He said the decision is now made and the project team appointed.

"All things going to plan, planning permission will be secured next year and construction on the new hospital and the satellite centres in Blanchardstown and Tallaght will commence," the spokesman said.

"Minister Varadkar is very concerned that if consideration of the hospital location and satellite centres is re-opened, it will cause further inordinate delays and no child alive will ever have the benefit of a new hospital," he added.

comurphy@herald.ie


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