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Fight for new Mater project -- urges child health expert

IRISH paediatricians have been urged to unite behind the controversial national children's hospital project.

Construction is due to begin next year on the new hospital which will be located on the Mater site in central Dublin.

A last-minute campaign is being waged by opponents as moves get under way to fast-track the planning application for the hospital.

However paediatric consultant Professor Denis Gill said that he hopes that An Bord Pleanala will approve the project and allow it to come to fruition as soon as possible.

He said that he supported the development of paediatrics -- medicine and surgery of childhood -- adjacent to medicine and surgery of adults for a number of medical reasons.

He pointed out that the performance of children's transplants, including heart, lung, kidneys and livers, required close collaboration with adult surgeons.

In addition, he said that it allowed better academic interchange between adult and paediatric specialists.

Prof Gill also stated it allowed for the smooth transfer of chronically ill children at late adolescence to adult services.

In addition, it allowed for integrated teaching and training possibilities for medical and nursing students.

He said: "Children's hospitals in Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh and Newcastle have, or are, being relocated to adult sites.


"Ireland is simply not big enough to justify a 'stand-alone' children's hospital on the UK's Great Ormond Street model."

He pointed out also that the proposed hospital will have management and budgetary authority and autonomy.

"The children will not mind much where the national paediatric hospital is so long as they are the first priority, the care is good, the people are nice, the place is friendly and they are made better," he said in a letter to the Irish Medical News.

Health Minister Mary Harney said last week that the decision to locate the hospital on the Mater campus in Dublin will not be revisited.

She said that she was inspired by parents' groups who stressed the most important issue was for the hospital to be built as soon as possible.

The project team will commence engagement on the new children's hospital planning application with An Bord Pleanala on September 29.

The plan to construct a new national children's hospital beside the Mater hospital has been criticised by some who claim that the site is unsuitable.

The original budget for the hospital was €750 million but it is now expected to cost less.