Group calls on Government to halt children’s hospital project at St James’s

Campaigners want new hospital to be built on Blanchardstown greenfield site

File photograph: Members of Connolly for Kids picutred outside government buildings calling for the new National Childrens Hospital to be located on Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, Co Dublin on June 22nd, 2016. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

File photograph: Members of Connolly for Kids picutred outside government buildings calling for the new National Childrens Hospital to be located on Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, Co Dublin on June 22nd, 2016. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

A campaign group has renewed its call for the current plan for the national children’s hospital at a site at St James’s Hospital to be abandoned and for the hospital to instead be constructed beside Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown.

Connolly for Kids, which held an information meeting in Leinster House on Wednesday, said the 145-acre site at Connolly offered unlimited space for expansion, easier access for people travelling from all over Ireland and the capacity to co-locate a new maternity hospital with the children’s hospital.

Connolly for Kids, an umbrella group of children’s health advocates, called on the Government to immediately stop the building work at the St James’s site and to examine the “cheaper, faster and safer” greenfield option.

Evidence wanted

Dr Róisín Healy, a former medical director of the emergency department at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, called on Minister for Health Simon Harris to pause the €1.4 billion St James’s construction and to reassess the children’s hospital project “with the possibility of looking at alternative sites”.

“We want the evidence that he has examined this [option], because we believe it will be cheaper, more cost effective and that, in particular, that a maternity hospital could be built for the babies that need immediate intervention after birth,” Dr Healy said.

The group includes paediatricians, parents, past-patients, planners and others who have been raising concerns over the St James’s site for the past 5 years.

Connolly for Kids has claimed there are “serious infrastructural deficiencies” in the St James’s project and that it is not possible to fit the relocated Coombe Maternity Hospital to it. The group claimed that the lives of urgently ill neonatal babies would be “needlessly lost in transit” if the hospital went ahead at the St James’s site.

“It won’t just cost billions – it will cost children their lives,” Dr Healy said.