Broad welcome for hospital decision
The Cabinet's decision locate the national children’s hospital on the St James’s Hospital campus in Dublin was welcomed by opposition and Government politicians today.
However, some opposition TDs warned the Government to maintain proper funding for existing hospital facilities for children and urged it to urgently begin the development
Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher said he would not accept “any diminution of services currently available” at Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght “prior to the full operation" of the new hospital.
He would ask Minister for Health James Reilly how he would deal with existing children’s facilities ahead of the new hospital being completed.
He urged the Government to bring clarity in relation to funding for the site and the timeline for delivery and to expedite the design, planning and development process.
“We have never sought to score political points on an issue as serious as this. I hope today’s decision brings an end to the relentless debate about where this new hospital is to be located and that there are no planning difficulties that arise with this new location,” he said.
The priority was to “move quickly to the planning and development stage”, Sinn Féin’s health and children spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said as he welcomed the decision on the “long overdue” project.
“In the interim, the Government must ensure full support for the existing children’s hospitals which are struggling to cope,” he added.
Noting that the new hospital "will not be opened for at least six years", People Before Profit TD Joan Collins said children who are ill now cannot wait for proper facilities.
“There is an urgent need for investment and the situation whereby wards were closed in Crumlin due to cutbacks cannot be repeated,” Ms Collins said .
Fine Gael TD and chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Health Jerry Buttimer said the focus could now turn to “putting the project out to tender so that a world class facility can be delivered”.
He said it was the very beginning of the process which should see the new paediatric facility completed by the end of 2017 or the beginning of 2018.
The move was welcomed by two Labour TDs in the Dublin South Central constituency where St James’s Hospital is based.
The selection would bring “great prestige” to the area and was “the equivalent of a major multinational company setting up in the area, and will give a huge boost to the local economy,” Labour TD Michael Conaghan said.
Labour TD Eric Byrne said the proposal had the “overwhelming support of consultant staff of Crumlin hospital and the board of Crumlin Hospital”.
Disappointment was expressed today by hospitals which lost out on the site.
In a statement, Temple Street Children’s University Hospital said St James's “does not facilitate true tri-location as currently there is no clarification on provision for a maternity hospital”.
It also expressed “serious concern” about the timeline for the new hospital. It will hold an emergency board meeting tomorrow to consider the deicison.
Tallaght Hospital Action Group said in a statement that it was “deeply disappointed” at the decision and maintained that Tallaght fulfilled the terms of reference for the Dolphin review group, which examined all the bids, in its accessibility, value for money, quick build and existing paediatric services.
“The community and patients of Tallaght Hospital have yet again been overlooked for the enhancement of its hospital services due to political expediency and medical politics,” it said in a statement.
The announcement was welcomed by the Faculty of Paediatrics at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland which would bring “be exciting opportunities for all those involved in child healthcare in Ireland”.
“We represent all Paediatricians in Ireland and we cannot stress enough how badly needed this hospital is,” the board said in a statement.
The delivery of specialised child healthcare was “unacceptably fragmented” and the physical surroundings were “grossly inadequate” it said urging an earlier completion date.