Five Irish and overseas consortiums have been shortlisted to build the new national children’s hospital, the biggest capital project in the history of the State.
The list includes a number of joint ventures between Irish and overseas companies.
Building work on the hospital will start in June if An Bord Pleanála gives the go-ahead, according to the director of the project.
John Pollock confirmed the projected cost of the €650 million project had risen by €60 million due to rising building costs, as reported in The Irish Times, but said it was otherwise on budget and on schedule to open at the end of 2020.
The report on the oral hearing on the project, held last December, has been completed and the planning board is due to deliver its decision before May 12th.
Mr Pollock admitted “the proof of the pudding” in relation to cost would emerge only when tenders for building the hospital were received.
He described the three- month delay in the board making a decision on the planning application as disappointing. The board has not sought additional information to help it make a decision, he added.
Work on demolishing existing buildings on the site will begin in June, if planning permission is given. Tenders for this work were issued last week.
Costs have also risen for the two satellite centres at Tallaght and Blanchardstown, which are projected to cost over €20 million and to open in 2018, Mr Pollock said.
The new hospital will have 473 beds, just four more than are currently provided in the three Dublin children’s hospitals. However, all beds in the new hospital will be in single rooms, and there will be more intensive-care and high-dependency beds.
A branding company has been engaged to come up with a name for the new hospital, and its suggestions will be tested with staff, focus groups and a youth advisory council.
Eilish Hardiman, who as chief executive of the Children's Hospital Group is charged with amalgamating the three existing children's hospitals, said the provision of services was being fundamentally changed as part of the move to St James's. The change would involve a greater emphasis on providing general paediatric services before children were referred for specialist treatment and a reduction in the proportion of children admitted straight from the emergency department.
Legal advice had been sought on the best way to achieve the amalgamation of the existing three children’s hospitals, she said. One option was to introduce legislation, but the objective could also be achieved by the three voluntary hospitals setting up a new company to take over the running of all three institutions.