Call for children's site to be near maternity hospital


CONSULTANT MEDICAL staff at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin have called on Minister for Health James Reilly to ensure the new national children’s hospital is built adjacent to a maternity hospital.

In a letter signed by 43 consultants at Crumlin, they argue that it is critical to locate the project next to a maternity hospital where high-risk babies can be delivered.

The group argues that, in contrast, there are few circumstances that would necessitate transfer of a sick child from a children’s hospital to an adult hospital.

The letter, seen by The Irish Times, does not explicitly favour any of the bids in contention to host the new hospital. However, it implicitly favours the proposals by St James’s Hospital, the Coombe women’s hospital and the Mater.

It says that if the project were to be located at “the St James’s/Coombe campus”, it should be physically attached, by a linking corridor, to the Coombe.

This would comply with the recommendation made by the original McKinsey report on the project and would facilitate involvement of staff from St James’s in the management of any sick child who might benefit from their expertise, the letter says.

Separately, with less than two weeks to go before the announcement on the location, Dr Brendan Kinsley, chairman of the Mater hospital’s medical executive, argued strongly last night that the planning issues that emerged at the Bord Pleanála hearing had been resolved by an increase of one-third in the size of the site plus the reduction of the height of the hospital to 10 storeys.

Dr Kinsley pointed out that international experts had selected the Mater on the basis of criteria laid out in the 2006 McKinsey report, including the trilocation of maternity, paediatric and adult hospitals with the full range of specialities. He also said the Mater satisfied the criteria of cost and the 2016 completion target.

There is a perception that, in the exercise undertaken by the group chaired by Frank Dolphin, the Mater had dropped in the rankings behind St James’s and Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown. The experts in this group were largely Irish in contrast to the first group, all of whom were international, which selected the Mater.

It came as Taoiseach Enda Kenny denied he or any other Minister had commissioned another independent report on potential locations for the national children’s hospital.

In angry exchanges in the Dáil yesterday, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin accused Mr Kenny of misleading the House the previous day. The claim was made after it was reported the advice of former Dublin city manager John Fitzgerald had been sought.

The spokesman for Mr Reilly refused to say if Mr Reilly or any of his officials had contacted Mr Fitzgerald, the nature of any advice, and the extent of any contact.