Letter of concern over site for child hospital


ALMOST 140 medical consultants who back the Mater hospital as the site for the new children’s hospital have written to Government Ministers expressing concern that the project may go to a greenfield location.

The consultants from the Mater, Temple Street and Rotunda hospitals say the Government will be going against international best practice and the advice of international review groups if a greenfield site, which is not home to an existing hospital, is chosen.

Minister for Health James Reilly said yesterday the long-delayed decision on where to site the new hospital would not come before Cabinet for several weeks.

However, informed sources say a greenfield site at Belcamp in north Dublin is emerging as a possible favourite to win the contest.

Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown and St James’s Hospital in the city centre are also said to be still in the running, but the Mater, which was originally chosen as the site until An Bord Pleanála rejected the planning application, appears to have fallen out of favour.

Under the Belcamp proposal, Beaumont Hospital would relocate to the new site near the M50 and Dublin Airport.

The site is located in Dublin North East, near Dr Reilly’s base in the north of the county.

The reported growth in support for Belcamp has set off alarm bells at the Mater, where €25 million has been spent on preparation of the site for the children’s hospital since 2006.

In the letter, the consultants say it would cost up to €1 billion to build children’s, adult and maternity hospitals at Belcamp.

While the building of the three hospitals could be staggered, this would not provide “the gold standard of trilocation that the mothers and children of Ireland deserve”.

The letter says the greenfield option involves massive extra cost, extra delay and is predicated on the hope that new clinical relationships will materialise.

“If a greenfield site is chosen over a trilocated city-centre site in Dublin, we believe it will not be in the best interest of any of the affected constituencies – adults, mothers, children and babies.”

The consultants point out that the Mater has been chosen twice as the most suitable site for the project.

Since 2006, a new adult hospital has been built at the Mater “in anticipation” of the building of the children’s hospital.

“This will facilitate true back-to-back adult/paediatric synergies that cannot be achieved in any other adult hospital site.”

Building the children’s hospital and a new Rotunda hospital on the site would ensure completion of the project by 2016.

The letter says that the points raised by An Bord Pleanála have been comprehensively addressed and the current site is significantly larger than what was originally proposed.

The letter, which was personally signed by 138 consultants, has been sent to Ministers, Ministers of State and various Government advisers.