Spiralling children’s hospital costs 'will delay other projects'

Taoiseach says latest increase is ‘way beyond what we had ever anticipated’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured speaking to reporters in James Connolly Memorial Hospital in Blanchardstown on Monday. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured speaking to reporters in James Connolly Memorial Hospital in Blanchardstown on Monday. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he is concerned by the increasing cost of the National Children’s Hospital, which he said will delay other infrastructural projects.

The latest estimate for the cost of the new children’s hospital is €1.4bn.

Speaking at Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, Dublin, this morning, the Taoiseach said it will impact on other projects.

“I am here in Connolly Hospital where part of the Children’s Hospital, the satellite centre, is now complete and will be open next year,” he said.

“I am very concerned at the rising costs on the main campus. We always expected that the price would rise as a result of construction inflation but the latest increase is way beyond what we had ever anticipated and the reality is, because of that, because of the additional money that we may need to find to cover that other projects will, as a consequence of that, be delayed and that’s a real shame.

“The consequence of running over budget with a project means that other projects get delayed and that is not a good position to be in.”

The secretary general of the Department of Health, Jim Breslin, this month held talks with the group planning the development of the new hospital.

It is understood the Department of Public Expenditure is particularly alarmed at the rising bill for the new hospital.

In 2012, the new national children’s hospital was expected to cost €404 million.

By the time the contract was awarded for the St James’s site, it had jumped to €485 million. Two years ago, when an application for planning permission was lodged, it had increased to €650 million.

Last year, the estimated cost reached €1 billion. Now the Government fears it has jumped again.

The new hospital will have 473 beds, all in single rooms, and the budget includes the construction of two smaller satellite centres at Tallaght and Blanchardstown .

Last year, Minister for Health Simon Harris said he expected the project to be delivered “on budget and on time”, by the end of 2021.

However, there has been a jump in construction inflation in the last year, with some sources suggesting that the cost of the children’s hospital project was increasing by millions every week.

In a statement, the Department of Health said that “considerable progress” had been made on the project since the contract was awarded in 2017. It said “a traditional method of procurement was not suitable or realistic for a project of this size and complexity”.