Fresh concerns raised over design of new national children’s hospital

National Paediatric Hospital Development Board members query aspects of the project

Fresh concerns about the design and build of the national children’s hospital have been flagged in a number of private meetings of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board.

Documents released under freedom of information legislation show that board members raised potential issues with the quality of the project’s design. Concerns have also been raised about the number of workers on the hospital building site, which is located at St James’s Hospital in Dublin.

The hospital has been at the centre of a major controversy due to huge cost overruns, with the bill rising from an estimated €800 million in 2014 to €1.4 billion, which is expected to increase to some €1.7 billion.

The various committees attached to the board also discussed the budget for the project multiple times, however this information has been redacted in the documents.


In a meeting earlier this year on April 29th, the joint construction and finance sub-committee noted that sub-contractor numbers were “down on site in the week before Easter, and this has continued since the Easter break, this is concerning and has been followed up with BAM”. Issues concerning equipment for the national children’s hospital were also raised.

The procurement sub-committee met on April 29th and agreed that some equipment for the hospital would be transferred from other hospitals in order to maintain the budget. Board members agreed the “full schedule of equipment to be transferred from the existing children’s hospitals is to be prepared for the next meeting along with confirmation as to who will be responsible for decommissioning and recommissioning this equipment”.

Simplified designs

On May 1st, the design sub-committee met and discussed a site visit to the new satellite unit at Connolly. “There were a number of items pointed out during the design sub-committee Connolly site visit in March that should have been the responsibility of the design team to have snagged. There is a need now to ensure all snagging is dealt with appropriately before handover.”

“There was a discussion in relation to the importance of quality on the project.” The committee asked that the design team “set down on paper their processes and procedures for ensuring quality on site” and that “rules should be set from the beginning in accordance with their conditions of engagement”.

At a meeting on June 5th, it was reported that “the processes and procedures for ensuring quality on site requested from the design team had not yet been received”. The group noted also that the air quality in theatres needed to be reviewed and also noted issues with isolation room doors.

At the same meeting, the committees also agreed a number of opportunities for saving. Amongst the changes included the removal roof lights from a “rainbow garden”, changing “gold boxes” at the emergency entrance to “PVC grade” boxes and simplifying other designs.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times