Children’s hospitals say no decisions made about future use of sites

Sale of hospitals at Crumlin, Temple Street or Tallaght could raise millions of euro to offset cost of new project, estimated at €650m

The site of the proposed national children’s hospital, at St James’s Hospital, Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

The site of the proposed national children’s hospital, at St James’s Hospital, Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Tue, Aug 26, 2014, 01:00

The three Dublin children’s hospitals say no decisions have been made about the future use of their buildings and land once the new national children’s hospital is built at St James’s.

The sale of the existing hospitals at Crumlin, Temple Street or Tallaght could raise millions of euro to offset the cost of the project, estimated at €650 million.

However, it is not certain the properties will be disposed of in this way.

Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin said a decision had not been made in relation to the site’s use on completion of the new children’s hospital at St James’s. The hospital is chaired by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, but ownership rests with the board of directors.

Recent board meetings show there has been discussion about the transfer of “assets and liabilities” to the Children’s Hospital Group, the entity overseeing the amalgamation of the three existing hospitals in advance of the move to St James’s.

Concern

According to the minutes, the board “expressed concern regarding the lack of both a statutory board and enabling legislation” for the new project.

The 2012 accounts for the hospital record tangible fixed assets of €69.5 million, down from €109 million the year before after a €39 million impairment loss was booked.

Independent Dublin city councillor Ruairí McGinley, who sits on the board of Crumlin hospital, said a number of future options had been discussed, including the transfer of buildings to the HSE. Crumlin could also be used as an overflow facility once children’s services move to St James’s.

Any changes to the site would involve “rectification costs”, such as those arising from issues with asbestos, he pointed out.

Temple Street Children’s University Hospital said the issue has been discussed but no decision reached. “The issue of what will happen to the Temple Street land and buildings when we move to the new children’s hospital is under discussion (at an early stage) by the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and Children’s University Hospital Ltd (MMCUH) board of governors but no firm agreement has been reached and this may take some time.”

Ownership

Temple Street is incorporated as a private limited company, whose sole shareholder is MMCUH, itself a company limited by guarantee.

Ultimate ownership rests with the Sisters of Mercy order.

The children’s hospital at Tallaght shares a building with an adult hospital, which is likely to take over its space once children’s services are moved to St James’s. A spokeswoman said that while the board had made no concrete decisions “as yet”, it was likely the children’s hospital will in time be subsumed into the existing and future services provided by the hospital.

The land and buildings at Tallaght hospital are owned by the Minister for Health, she pointed out.

Meanwhile, the site earmarked for the national children’s hospital when it was to be built at the Mater is being returned to its original owners, the Sisters of Mercy.

The order donated the site for use as a children’s hospital, but the land is now being returned to it following the Government’s decision to move the project to St James’s.