Children's hospital board keen to stay on

Tue, Nov 27, 2012, 00:00

Seven of the nine members of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, including chairman Harry Crosbie, have indicated they want to stay on to develop the project at St James’s Hospital.

The term of office of the seven members, representing a variety of medical and other professional interests, expires next Tuesday. Minister for Health James Reilly will then have to choose new members with the skills to see the controversial project through to completion.

Five of the seven are nominated members so it is not clear whether their nominating bodies will choose to put their names forward again.

Dr Reilly has yet to show his hand in relation to the new board. It is thought he may opt for a smaller board than heretofore with skills concentrated on construction and design rather than a wider skill-set encompassing medical interests.

This is seen as the best way to ensure the hospital is built expeditiously with the minimum of medical and political lobbying, according to informed sources. The Minister will also have to decide if St James’s and the HSE are directly involved on the board.

While Mr Crosbie is keen to stay at the helm of the project, he may be regarded as being too closely linked to the previous proposal to build the hospital at the Mater site. Mr Crosbie, who has extensive construction and development experience, owes €500 million, directly and indirectly, to State agency Nama.

Meanwhile, the New Children’s Hospital Alliance, which campaigned strongly against the original choice of the Mater site, has described St James’s as a poor choice.

“It is unacceptable that the need of our sick youngest citizens, our newborn babies, for optimal care is being long-fingered. Only is it planned to build a maternity hospital at St James’s.”

The group says that as a short-term strategy, the project should be built adjacent to the Coombe Women’s Hospital.