Hospital chairman steps down over funds concern


CONCERNS OVER a shortage of Government funding for the construction of the new national children’s hospital in Dublin was among the reasons for the resignation earlier this week of the chairman of the board set up to oversee the development of the new facility, it has emerged.

Latest estimates put the cost of building the new hospital – into which all three existing children’s hospitals would be merged on the Mater Hospital site – at €650 million, but the Government had only promised €400 million for the project.

It is understood Philip Lynch, who was appointed chairman of the national paediatric hospital development board by Minister for Health Mary Harney just over three years ago, resigned amid concerns about how the gap in funding would be made up. While there were suggestions it might come from lottery funding or philanthropic donations, or even a loan the hospital would pay off in the years after it opened, the uncertainty over funding was a significant concern for Mr Lynch.

It is understood a number of parties approached him recently pointing out that the hospital could have been built for significantly less on a different site. However when he raised this with her, Ms Harney was not willing to reopen the debate on where the new facility would be built.

In addition, it is understood some board members were concerned that the building might not get planning permission. The planning application though could be made directly to An Bórd Pleanála following recent amendments to planning legislation.

In a statement, Ms Harney thanked Mr Lynch for his contribution to the board. She has appointed businessman John Gallagher as his replacement and said she looked forward to the board under his chairmanship, and the HSE “moving forward to deliver a world class children’s hospital on the Mater campus”.