Hospital plan to link Coombe to St James's
A PROPOSAL to build the new national children’s hospital adjacent to the Coombe women’s hospital in Dublin but under the aegis of an expanded St James’s Hospital has emerged as the favourite option for the project.
Minister for Health James Reilly is expected to recommend to Cabinet the creation of an integrated academic health campus in Dublin 8, comprising St James’s and the Coombe.
The new hospital would be built on State-owned lands beside the Coombe and both hospitals would be grouped with St James’s. Services such as human resources, administration and payroll would be shared to cut costs.
The lands offered by the Coombe are seen as offering the lowest planning risk of any of the bids submitted from inner city locations. The 20.5-acre site comprises the disused Player Wills cigarette factory, the Bailey Wilson scrap-metal salvage site and the derelict Boys’ Brigade playing fields, which are in the ownership of Dublin City Council.
St James’s was ranked highest for its medical specialities by the Dolphin review group, which examined all the bids. However, there is concern in Government circles that the lands it has offered are too small for such a big project. It is feared they could suffer the same planning fate as the Mater, which was selected for the project but had its planning application rejected by An Bord Pleanála.
As a result, a compromise proposal has emerged to expand the St James’s campus so that it envelopes the larger site adjacent to the Coombe and to build the children’s hospital on these lands. This would remove the need to build a new maternity hospital. St James’s is about 600 metres away from the Coombe.
This approach is likely to find favour with medical staff at Crumlin children’s hospital, who are due to move to the new facility when it is built. They want direct linkage between the children’s hospital and a maternity hospital.