London hospital ex-chief warns over siting of children's facility


A FORMER medical director of Great Ormond Street children’s hospital in London has warned the Government against siting the new national children’s hospital in a greenfield location.

Prof Ian Hann says the proposed new hospital will not be able to deliver the best outcomes for children at a greenfield site or any location without the necessary range of back-up facilities.

His views are contained in a letter to the Taoiseach and Tánaiste, who are due to meet Minister for Health James Reilly shortly in advance of a Cabinet decision on the long-awaited project.

There were no firm indications yesterday when this meeting was going to take place, with one senior Cabinet source saying it was unlikely to happen this week.

The letter from Prof Hann was also signed by Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay, former Trinity College provost Tom Mitchell, former chancellor of the University of Limerick Miriam Hederman O’Brien and Children in Hospital Ireland chief executive Mary O’Connor.

The authors say a children’s hospital with advanced expertise can only be realistically achieved by locating it adjacent to an adult hospital with a wide range of fully developed specialties.

“Such co-location will enable a pooling of expertise and facilities and will create the wide range of specialist services that no paediatric hospital can achieve on its own.”

The letter claims trilocation of the children’s hospital with an adult hospital and a maternity hospital is “the most desirable model of all” in order to save lives when neo-natal and maternal complications arise.

The authors say they are not attached to any health provider but are informed about the issues. However, only the Mater and St James’s Hospital bids would fulfil the conditions in the letter.

However Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown, which is also bidding for the project, says building on a greenfield site is the fastest way to deliver the new hospital and would cost 25 per cent less than building in the city.

It says it can deliver a children’s hospital and a new maternity hospital for the same cost as building one hospital on a city centre site. The Connolly bid is supported by Beaumont Hospital and the Royal College of Surgeons.

The Mater consortium has disputed claims by St James’s that it offers the best location.