Children’s hospital: Construction progress slower than expected

Chair of national children’s hospital says only €1m in additional costs have been paid

The chairman of the new national children’s hospital told the Oireachtas committee on health that he hopes the delays to its construction can be made up. File photograph

The chairman of the new national children’s hospital told the Oireachtas committee on health that he hopes the delays to its construction can be made up. File photograph

 

Construction of the new national children’s hospital is a little behind where its development board would like it to be, its chairman Fred Barry has said.

He also told the Oireachtas committee on health on Wednesday one critical milestone – the removal of a road running through the site – had been missed.

However, he said the building programme still had three years to run, to the end of 2022, and he hoped time could be made up.

Mr Barry said the cost of meeting additional claims submitted by the building contractor that had been determined so far was less than €1 million.

He said about 50 per cent of the additional contractor claims submitted had now been determined.

Mr Barry said some of the additional claims were very big. He suggested if the development authorities lost out in relation to a big claim the amounts could be considerably more.

He said because there was success in dealing with claims submitted so far, it did not guarantee there would be a similar level of success in the future.

Residual risks

Mr Barry said the Government’s authorisation to the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board to proceed with the main construction works late last year was exclusive of some residual risks.

“Some of these risks are under our control and some are not. We are actively managing those under our control while monitoring those that are not.”

He told the committee these external risks included the rate of construction inflation, legislative or regulatory changes in the years ahead.

“If inflation is higher in the future it is going to cost more money”, he said.

He said this would be dealt with by the Government.

Mr Barry said the development authorities had taken the measures they could to reduce the cost of building the new hospital, which the Government was told last year was €1.43 billion.

He said there was no chance the project could be done for less than budgeted for at the moment. “The pressures on this are all upwards”, he said.

Critical milestone

Mr Barry told Alan Kelly of the Labour Party the hospital development project had missed one critical milestone – the removal and replacement of a road that ran through the centre of the site.

Mr Barry also said the area of the hospital construction that was not as advanced as had been hoped was the concrete frame, the slabs and the columns.

He said while a huge amount of work had been carried out, “we would like to have seen even more done at this stage”.

He said some of the concrete was being poured onsite and some other parts were pre-fabricated.

Answering questions from Fine Gael TD Bernard Durcan, Mr Barry said he had some sympathy for the main contractor involved in the hospital development, as there was a huge amount of building work around the country and resources in the area were very tight.