Blackrock Clinic set for €100m extension


Blackrock Clinic has announced a €100 million expansion programme which will include a three-floor extension to the existing hospital facility and 44 new beds, writes Ronan McGreevy.

The planned expansion will see every patient have a single room - the first time an acute hospital in Ireland has been able to provide such a service.

The scheme will facilitate a 42 per cent increase in beds from 116 at present to 160 by the autumn of 2009, when the facility is expected to be finished.

There will be two new operating theatres, including an additional specialised orthopaedic theatre which will result in a 40 per cent increase in the availability of theatre space.

Space within the day-care unit will be doubled to accommodate up to 250 patients a day.

The clinic secured planning permission for the development from Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council six months ago. The first phase, a new multi-storey car park with space for 293 cars, will be opened next month.

The expansion is expected to create 100 new clinical and administration jobs in the hospital, bringing total employment to 650 people.

In addition, a programme of extensive refurbishment will take place throughout the existing hospital building. This will include an overhaul of the restaurant and the renovation of the reception area.

The Blackrock Clinic was founded by surgeon James Sheehan in 1984 as a day-care unit. It is now one of the largest private facilities in the Republic.

The clinic is owned by Larry Goodman, the biggest shareholder, James Sheehan and his brother Joe, Dr George Duffy and John Flynn. Mr Goodman and the Sheehan brothers are involved in its sister clinic - the Galway Clinic - while all but Joe Sheehan has shares in the Hermitage Medical Clinic in Lucan, Co Dublin, which was opened in 2006.

Blackrock Clinic chief executive Bryan Harty says the development will be funded by bank borrowings and not by tax breaks. "The main reason is we are expanding to meet demand. We have secured the investment based on a strong business case," he said.

The clinic is hoping that it will strengthen its services in cardiac surgery, oncology, orthopaedics and neurosurgery, while also enhancing its day-care unit.

The clinic is to lose eight beds during the construction period, but otherwise it will be open as usual and it is hoping that there will be a minimum of disruption for patients.

Although it is a private facility, Mr Harty said there will be a knock-on effect for the public sector as Blackrock Clinic takes not only patients with health insurance, but also from the National Treatment Purchase Fund.

"We are delighted to embark on a programme of investment that will not only strengthen existing services at the clinic but will also introduce greater patient capacity, improved facilities and a first-class environment for patients, doctors and staff alike," he said.