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New children's hospital site is 'idiot of an idea'

The plan to build the new National Children's Hospital on land at St James's Hospital is an "idiot of an idea", according to charity boss Jonathan Irwin.

The head of the Jack and Jill Foundation roundly condemned the official choice of location for the new hospital.

The chief executive officer of the children's charity told Pat Kenny on Newstalk radio yesterday that the campus for the centralised paediatric unit at St James's is "unsuitable" and will prove to be "a minefield".

His criticism came as it emerged that almost €40m of taxpayers' money spent on the failed bid to build the hospital at the Mater site is being written-off.

The sum spent on the doomed Mater project emerged in a report by Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy into the development board set up to oversee the long-delayed project.

The €40m in costs includes almost €25m on business services, €6m on design and €3m on project management.

An application for planning permission to build the National Children's Hospital at St James's will not be ready until next year, and major question marks remain over promises to have it built by 2018.

Mr Irwin - whose charity provides respite and hospice care for gravely-ill children - told the broadcaster he does not believe the new hospital will be delivered on target for 2018.

He said the location should be changed to Connolly Blanchardstown Hospital, which has more space.

The project brief approved by the HSE confirms the new €650m hospital will contain 384 in-patient beds, including 62 critical-care beds, all in single en-suite rooms, as well as 85 day-care beds and 14 top-class operating theatres, examination rooms and other facilities.

delays

In June it emerged that the building project could face significant delays due to a main sewer.

The sewer, which serves the Drimnagh and south west area of the capital, runs directly under the proposed new hospital.

Reports from the initial planning process outline that the pipe will have to be moved simply because of the size of the proposed building.

This could cost up to €18m and would cause lengthy delays.

A spokesman for the project confirmed that the Drimnagh sewer does run under the site and that the new hospital would connect to it.

aokeeffe@herald.ie


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