Harris expects children’s hospital to be on budget and on time

Building work set to begin within weeks and is due for completion towards end of 2021

The Cabinet has approved the construction of the new National Children's Hospital at the St James's Hospital site in Dublin. Construction will begin 'within weeks' and it is expected to be open by 2021. Video: Bryan O'Brien

 

Minister for Health Simon Harris has said he expects the €1 billion new national children’s hospital in Dublin to be delivered on budget and on time.

Building work on the hospital, the largest single construction development in the history of the State, is set to begin within weeks and is due for completion towards the end of 2021.

The building will cost €1 million per bed in core construction costs, but the project team says this is in line with other similar hospital projects internationally.

The decision by the Cabinet on Wednesday to approve the project on a site at St James’s Hospital in Dublin marks the end of almost 20 years of planning for a new children’s hospital, during which almost €120 million has been spent without a brick being laid.

Ministers gave the go-ahead in the face of continuing opposition to the St James’s location from some groups and despite rising costs for the project, which had a price tag of €650 million three years ago.

Mr Harris said it was not fair to say the cost of the hospital had “spiralled” as extra facilities were now being provided in addition to the basic hospital construction.

Listen to Inside Politics

Very satisfied

Welcoming the Cabinet’s decision, he said he was “very satisfied” with the site and it was now time to “press go” on the project.

The hospital, into which the three existing Dublin children’s hospitals will be merged, will have 380 individual en-suite in-patient bedrooms, 22 operating theatres, and 1,000 car-parking spaces.

The project provides for the construction of the new hospital at St James’s Hospital, plus two satellite centres at Tallaght and Connolly hospitals, as well as a research centre and family accommodation.

The overall cost also includes equipment, IT, shops and car parking, though some of these will be privately funded.

The board planning the hospital says costs have risen by almost €200 million since 2014 due to a rise in construction inflation, delays in planning and procurement, and higher than forecast tenders.

The hospital will be built on 12 acres at the western end of the 50-acre St James’s campus, with an adjoining three acres available for the future construction of a maternity hospital.

Rebuild

It was originally proposed to rebuild a children’s hospital on the site of Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin but a government rethink led to the proposal for a national hospital co-located with an adult hospital. The Mater hospital in central Dublin was originally chosen as the site for the project but the planning application was rejected.

Following a review, the last Fine Gael/Labour coalition chose St James’s in 2012. While opponents claimed the site suffered from poor access and traffic issues, An Bord Pleanala granted planning permission a year ago and Bam Ireland has been selected to build the hospital.

The outpatient and urgent care centre in Tallaght is scheduled to open in late 2018 and the centre in Blanchardstown will open several months later.

Mr Harris has said he will shortly bring to Cabinet the legislation required to integrate the three existing hospitals, which have differing governance structures.