Archbishop favours St James's as hospital site


THE BOARD of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin has given its full support for the development of the national children’s hospital on the campus of St James’s Hospital, Dublin.

In a fresh twist in the planning controversy, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, who chairs the Crumlin hospital board, said it was fully convinced that developing the children’s facility along with a future maternity hospital at St James’s south city campus represented the best option for the care of children and the long-term interest of paediatrics.

In a letter to St James’s, the archbishop said: “This proposal will very significantly improve the services for the children, adolescents and families we serve. We are convinced that the development of the national paediatric hospital on the St James’s campus offers an exceptional opportunity to develop a world-class centre of integrated healthcare in Ireland.”

The move is seen as a significant intervention on the part of Dr Martin, who is not only a member of the Mater Hospital board but also president of Temple Street Children’s University Hospital, which – along with the Mater and the Rotunda – wants the children’s hospital to be located on the Mater site.

St James’s Hospital, traditionally a Protestant teaching hospital associated with Trinity College, confirmed yesterday it had made a submission to the Government’s review group identifying a 6.3-hectare site on its campus that was available for the development of the children’s hospital.

It is understood representatives of St James’s Hospital last week met the review group chaired by Dr Frank Dolphin, which is looking at the implications of the decision by An Bord Pleanála to reject planning permission for the €650 million children’s facility on the north Dublin city Mater Hospital site.

St James’s had previously made a bid for the national children’s hospital in 2006, when the project was first mooted. Its spokesman said yesterday the hospital had been asked by the review group to provide any update on this original submission.

St James’s also welcomed the support of the board of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, which identified the “exceptional opportunities on the St James’s campus to further develop existing clinical synergies, which will directly benefit children and young people”.

In his letter – sent to the chairman of the board of St James’s on April 17th – Dr Martin said it was incumbent on Our Lady’s hospital, as the largest paediatric facility in Ireland, to make “very clear its strongly held view” in relation to St James’s, adding that it “will not be formally supporting any other proposals”.

The archbishop said that, in reaching its decision, the board of Our Lady’s hospital had placed at the forefront the opportunity for an integrated model of care along the lines of the principles set out by the consultancy group McKinsey in 2006, “and the absolute requirement to develop the trilocation of acute paediatric, adult and maternity services in order to benefit children and adolescents”.