Children’s hospital location not ‘up for debate’ despite poll

Poll shows over 70% believe St James’s site is wrong location for children’s hospital

Artist’s impression issued by Children’s Hospital Group of proposed family accommodation block at the site of the new state-of-the-art children’s hospital at St James’s Hospital in Dublin. Image: Children’s Hospital Group/PA Wire

Artist’s impression issued by Children’s Hospital Group of proposed family accommodation block at the site of the new state-of-the-art children’s hospital at St James’s Hospital in Dublin. Image: Children’s Hospital Group/PA Wire

 

The decision on the location of the new children’s hospital is not up for debate, the head of the hospital’s development board has said.

Eilis Hardiman, chief executive of the National Children’s Hospital Development Board made the comment in light of a poll indicating that 73 per cent of people believe that St James’s Hospital is the wrong location for the new children’s hospital.

“We don’t believe the location is up for debate,” she said on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show.

The Newstalk/Red C Poll* found that only 20 per cent of people surveyed agree with the inner city site.

In early May, An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission for the hospital, which will see the bringing together of all children’s hospitals currently operating in the State under one roof, on a campus shared with St James’s Hospital in Dublin city.

The hospital is expected to open in 2020 after years of debate and dispute about its location. Connolly Hospital, the Coombe, and Tallaght Hospital were some of the sites debated through the years.

The survey, which interviewed a random representative sample of 1,015 adults aged 18+ by phone, also examined whether the public feel Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, or another location, would have been a better option.

Of those surveyed, 36 per cent said that the St James’s site was incorrect, but were unsure what would have been a better choice.

A similar proportion (37 per cent) believe that Connolly Hospital would have been a better location.

Ms Hardiman said that the decision was made on clinical reasons and that the services on offer in St James’s Hospital surpassed those elsewhere.

“Evidence of better outcomes on similar set ups can be found in Glasgow, Sweden and Manchester,” she said.

Age

Age is a dividing factor among those surveyed.

The feeling of dissatisfaction with the chosen location is more pronounced among those aged 35-44 years. Of that demographic, 88 per cent responded that St James’s Hospital is the incorrect site.

Those in the 18-24 category were less likely to feel this way, with 34 per cent claiming the inner-city location is the best choice.

Location

The number of people who believe St James’s Hospital is the best option is significantly higher among those living in Dublin at 27 per cent. However over 70 per cent still believe the incorrect site was chosen.

The majority in all regions also believe St James’s is the wrong site, with those living in Leinster(excluding Dublin), claiming to be least content with the choice.

Seventy three per cent of people from both the Connacht/Ulster region and Munster do not think the chosen site if the best location.

Ms Hardiman said that many of the claims being made in relation to the location were inaccurate. “There are many myths and misinformation.”

When concerns were raised about the possibility of flooding on the proposed site at St James’ Hospital she said that there was a one in a thousand chance that the site would be flooded.

Gender

There is no major gender divide among the answers. One in five females say they are happy with the St James’s Hospital site, along with 21 per cent of males.

There is a slight difference when it comes to those who think it is the incorrect choice, with 71 per cent of females disagreeing with the chosen site, in comparison to 75 per cent of men surveyed.

Luas transport suggestion criticised

A doctor who is also a former child cancer patient criticised the location of the hosptial.

Dr Eamon Faller told the Pat Kenny Show that as a former child patient he was all too familiar with the difficulties of accessing services.

He underwent intensive chemotherapy when he was 14 at Crumlin Children’s Hospital and now works in St James’s Hospital in the infectious diseases and HIV unit.

Travelling to Crumlin for treatment had been very difficult for him and his family he said.

He criticised the suggestion that patients could use the Luas to get to St James’s Hospital.

“The idea of a child undergoing chemotherapy who is sick and nauseous and weak hopping on a Luas is at best horribly inconvenient and an absolute ordeal, at worst it’s very dangerous. These kids are immune compromised, they can pick up infections,” he said.

Dr Faller said he had received very positive response from his colleagues for speaking out on the subject. He called on Minister for Health Simon Harris to have political courage and not “bulldoze this site through.”