Expansion of cancer facilities at St James’s Hospital deferred

Decision means five-year reprieve for St Luke’s in Rathgar

The site of the proposed National Children’s Hospital, at St James’s Hospital, Dublin, last July. Photograph: Eric Luke.

The site of the proposed National Children’s Hospital, at St James’s Hospital, Dublin, last July. Photograph: Eric Luke.

 

A planned expansion of cancer facilities at St James’s Hospital has been deferred because of the construction of the national children’s hospital on the site up to late 2018.

The decision not to proceed with two major construction projects simultaneously at St James’s means a five-year reprieve for St Luke’s cancer hospital in Rathgar, whose oncology services had been slated for closure.

Facilities at St Luke’s are to be upgraded to meet increased demand for cancer services in Dublin, according to briefing notes prepared for Minister for Health Leo Varadkar.

They say current facilities in Dublin under the National Plan for Radiation Oncology will be at maximum capacity by the end of next year. It had been planned to increase capacity by expanding facilities at St James’s and Beaumont hospitals but this was before the children’s hospital project was moved to St James’s.

‘Favoured approach’

National Paediatric Hospital

The proposal that the HSE refurbish three of the bunkers at St Luke’s to accommodate two additional linear accelerators and ensure sufficient radiation oncology capacity post-2015, at a cost of €6 million, has already been approved by former minister for health James Reilly, it says.

Confirming the development, National Cancer Control Programme director Dr Susan O’Reilly said the retention of St Luke’s was a “pragmatic solution” given the difficulties of building at St James’s while the children’s hospital was under development.

New centres at Cork and Galway have been completed, while the expansion at Beaumont is expected to take two years to go through the planning process.

On the children’s hospital, the briefing note for Mr Varadkar says the development board has set an “aggressive” timescale for the project, which is supposed to be ready by the end of 2018.