Reilly appoints six officials to children's hospital project

 

Minister for Health James Reilly has appointed six senior officials to manage the national children’s hospital project on a temporary basis.

Department of Health deputy secretary general Fergal Lynch was appointed chairman of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board late last month, along with five ordinary board members – three from the department and two from the HSE.

The move fills a vacuum that arose when the terms of 12 members expired last December 5th, leaving just one member, Dr Pat Doherty, on the board that was supposed to be spearheading the Government’s flagship capital project.

It also makes it clear that the Minister has no intention of re-appointing any members from the previous board. The former chairman, businessman Harry Crosbie, had been keen to continue in the role.

Dr Reilly, who has come under fire for not filling the vacancies, is believed to want much tighter control of the project, which is years behind schedule following the rejection by An Bord Pleanála of a planning application to build the hospital at the Mater hospital in Dublin.

A rethink saw the project awarded to St James’s Hospital in Dublin 8 last November.

Six months

While their term on the board is five years, a spokesman for the Minister said the officials were expected to stay for six months only.

“They are aimed at ensuring effective governance and decision-making for the project at this important stage so that the project continues without delay during this transitional phase.”

The spokesman also confirmed that Dr Reilly was considering revised governance and project management arrangements for building the children’s hospital at St James’s and a proposal would go to Cabinet shortly.

“Further appointments to the board as either an interim or permanent measure will be considered in that context.”

The project still has no chief executive in place, and there have been disagreements between St James’s and the HSE over control of the project.

Dr Reilly told the Dáil last week the review of urgent care centres and maternity services in Dublin were being undertaken along with the preliminary work on the children’s hospital.

Internal configuration

“While a significant proportion of the work that was done for the project on the Mater site, including the internal configuration and adjacencies, will be transferable, a new design for the new site will be required before a planning application can be made.”

The other officials appointed to the board are: assistant secretary Bairbre Nic Aongusa; Fionnuala Duffy and Charlie Hardy, acute hospitals policy unit; and HSE head of estates Jim Curran and HSE regional director of operations, Dublin Mid-Leinster, Gerry O’Dwyer.