The opening of a new unit at Children's Health Ireland (CHI) in Tallaght, Dublin should mean "almost no waiting lists" for general paediatric care within the next three years, the hospital's clinical director has said.
CHI Tallaght opened an emergency care unit on Saturday morning, with the rest of the centre officially opening today.
The three-storey centre, which is adjacent to the main entrance to Tallaght University Hospital, includes a paediatric outpatient unit, triage rooms, minor procedure rooms and a radiology department.
Dr Ciara Martin, clinical director of CHI Tallaght, said there are currently more than 3,000 children on waiting lists for general paediatrics.
“This building and Connolly, with general paediatricians and health and social care professionals that are employed by this building, that whole package will mean we will go to almost no waiting list for general paediatrics,” she said.
“We will be able to reduce that waiting list within three years. That should coincide with opening our new hospital too and we’ll be able to go in with no waiting list for general paediatrics.”
When it’s at full capacity, the unit will be able to accommodate 17,000 outpatient appointments per year and 30,000 emergency care attendances. There are 16 single examination and treatment rooms in the emergency care department, which will be open around the clock.
A sexual assault therapy unit has also been relocated from Crumlin to the Tallaght complex. Through that unit, non-clinical support will be provided to child victims of sexual assault, and there will be a forensic, medical examination unit where somebody who has been assaulted can have samples taken.
The building houses state-of-the-art equipment, including an automated dispensing cabinet with a fingerprint scanner, an art therapy room, a sensory room and a breastfeeding facility. It also features specially commissioned artwork, to make it a more child-friendly location.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the facility is an "essential part" of the new National Children's Hospital project.
“It represents another major milestone reached in the project and will have a significant impact on the ongoing transformation of paediatric services in Ireland, helping to reduce wait times while delivering care in an appropriate setting, as close to home as possible,” he said.
Eilísh Hardiman, chief executive of Children’s Health Ireland, said: “This investment is helping to deliver better healthcare outcomes as well as better experiences for children, families and staff in a modern fit-for-purpose facility that they all deserve now and for future generations to come.”
The development is regarded as a second step towards modernising children's healthcare in the State. A first satellite unit, at Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, opened in 2016.
The next step will be the completion of the hospital at St James’s, building work on which is expected to finish in December 2023, with the official opening due in mid 2024. The hospital is expected to cost at least €1.4 billion.