Children’s hospital may sell naming rights to donors

Harris considering sponsor opportunities for overall and sectional nomenclature at site

An artist’s impression of the exterior of the proposed new National Children’s Hospital at St James’s in Dublin

An artist’s impression of the exterior of the proposed new National Children’s Hospital at St James’s in Dublin

 

The name of the new national children’s hospital, and of individual parts of it, may be sold off to wealthy donors as a way of funding the cash-strapped project.

The sponsorship by golfer Jack Nicklaus of a children’s hospital in Miami, and another deal that saw an insurance company sponsor a hospital in Columbus, Ohio, were two examples cited approvingly by Minister for Health Simon Harris in a memo to Cabinet last week.

Mr Harris told Ministers his officials were in discussions with naming rights specialists about raising money for the project at St James’s Hospital in Dublin, which is forecast to cost more than €1.7 billion.

The case for naming rights sponsorship opportunities for component parts of the hospital is “very strong in light of the funding challenge”, he said in the confidential memo to Cabinet. “There is also potential to generate significant funding contributions through naming rights sponsorship for the hospital name itself.”

Such a philanthropic approach is frequently used in the US to name both the hospital itself and spaces within it. The Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami changed its name after a $60 million pledge by the golfer’s charitable foundation, and Ohio’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital was rechristened after the insurance company of that name donated €50 million, the Minister pointed out.

‘Appropriate donors’

Mr Harris admitted there is no “history” of this approach in the Irish public healthcare sector and added that confining naming rights to areas within the hospital would be “more acceptable”.

“It is recommended that further investigation be undertaken into naming rights opportunities and valuations, following which a decision would be made to proceed to devising suitable ‘sales criteria’ and identifying appropriate donors.”

The new hospital is now forecast to cost €1.43 billion-€1.73 billion when IT and other items are included, €400 million more than in early 2017. Most of this increase is due to rising construction costs but €131 million of it is due to staff and consultancy costs, design fees, risk and VAT.

Mr Harris has proposed that of the €100 million extra needed to fund the project next year, half should be diverted from other health projects and half from other capital projects in other departments. Cabinet has deferred a decision on this until the new year.

The hospital is expected to be completed in August 2022.