Development of the new national children’s hospital is to go ahead at St James’s Hospital after the executive spearheading the project emphatically ruled out moving the project to another site.
St James's represents the "best outcome" for children and enjoys the "clear and unanimous" support of the existing three Dublin children's hospitals, according to Children's Hospital Group chief executive Eilish Hardiman.
She said the kind of services envisaged for the hospital could only be provided by co-location with an adult hospital such as St James’s, because of the scale and number of medical specialties involved.
A number of prominent paediatricians have said the project should be located on land adjoining the Coombe Maternity Hospital, but this would not provide the co-location spoken of by Ms Hardiman.
She said that consultants in key specialties work in both adult and paediatric medicine and it was important that the children’s hospital was co-located with an adult hospital as opposed to a maternity hospital.
The St James site is twice that of the site at the Mater which was rejected on planning grounds, leaving room for expansion, she told RTE's Morning Ireland programme.
Ms Hardiman acknowledged “urban planning issues” would still have to be addressed. Issues of densification were currently being “risk profiled”.
The project brief for the new hospital has been approved by the HSE with a planning application due to be lodged next year.
Ms Hardiman said the design team has already been selected and will be formally announced in two weeks’ time.
She said the design phase will take seven months. A planning application will be made to An Bord Pleanála in spring 2015, with construction slated to begin in summer 2016. She expects the hospital to start taking in patients on a phased basis by the end of 2018. Ms Hardiman's contract runs out in September that year.
The €650 million hospital, which is to be located on the St James’s Hospital campus, will bring together the three existing Dublin paediatric hospitals (Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, Children’s University Hospital Temple Street and the National Children’s Hospital into one entity.
It will have 384 in-patient beds including 62 critical care beds, all in single en-suite rooms and 85 day care beds. It will act as a national children’s hospital as well as a secondary paediatric hospital for Dublin.