New children's hospital not to open in Coalition's lifetime, says Minister
The Government’s original plans to open the new national children’s hospital during its term in office will not now be met, Minister for Health James Reilly has indicated.
Dr Reilly said he would be bringing a recommendation on the location for the hospital to Cabinet today and was hopeful that an announcement on a decision would be made afterwards.
The Minister said that the 2016 timeframe for building the hospital was the Government’s intention before the proposed location at the Mater hospital in Dublin city ran into difficulties on planning grounds earlier this year.
“I do not think that is achievable any more,” said Dr Reilly.
Last February after An Bord Pleanála refused planning permission for the development at the Mater, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the facility would be built within the lifetime of his Government. This runs at the latest until early 2016.
Dr Reilly said he would be in a better position to answer questions on the revised timeframe for the development following the Cabinet meeting.
He said regardless of whether the new hospital was built at the Mater or elsewhere, “the original timeline can’t be met”.
The Minister said that as of yesterday the location of the hospital had not yet been decided.
He disputed suggestions that the additional cost of moving the hospital to a location other than the previously designated site at the Mater could run to between €120 million and €140 million.
“All of the information I have, none of it would indicate a sum of that size. But the location has not been decided upon yet,” he said.
Dr Reilly added that the process of identifying the site for the hospital had taken some time as following completion of the Dolphin group report on the issue some of its members had been asked to review the costings advanced by several bidders.
“We had the Dolphin report initially. Then we had members of the Dolphin group doing a cost comparator across the sites because the conjecture and assertions made had to be checked out as some of them were not quite as robust as they might have been.”
Dr Reilly said a further planning assessment had also to be carried out before the issue was brought before Cabinet.
The Minister added that he hoped his Cabinet colleagues would make a decision at the meeting.
He said he would be bringing a recommendation for a location rather than options.
“I would like to think there would be an announcement tomorrow, but it would be a brave person that would predict the future with absolute authority.”
Dr Reilly was speaking at the opening of a new community nursing unit on the grounds of St Joseph’s Hospital in Raheny.
He said that great progress was being made in dealing with patients waiting on trolleys;that on many days last week there were 50 per cent fewer patients on trolleys awaiting a hospital bed than at the same period last year.
Mater , Dublin 7
The site which was for many years earmarked to house the new hospital fell at the final planning hurdle earlier this year. The Mater drew up a revised proposal that would see the development occupy a wider footprint and be lower in height than on the original blueprint
Coombe , Dublin 8
This proposal would mean developing a 20.5-acre site that adjoins the Coombe maternity hospital. Supporters say it could be completed in about 42 months at a cost of €358 million with a fitting-out cost of another €60 million .
This proposal would see the hospital built in a low-rise development on a 150-acre parkland setting. Supporters say the facility could be developed for €130 million cheaper than the next dearest and could be ready by autumn 2016.
St James’s, Dublin 8
An eight-storey facility is proposed at the Rialto end of the existing campus and connected to the adult hospital by a short link corridor. Supporters say it could be developed and fitted out on the campus by 2015 at a cost of €604 million.