No decision yet on whether review of Mater site needed

 

NO DECISION has yet been made by Minister for Health James Reilly on whether a full review is needed of the decision to locate the new national children’s hospital on the campus of Dublin’s Mater hospital.

Dr Reilly met the chairman of the paediatric hospital development board John Gallagher earlier this week to discuss the issue.

Asked yesterday if he had concluded following that meeting that no review was now necessary, he said: “No. I’ve asked for some further information which the department are gathering for me and I will be in a better position to speak on that in a couple of weeks.”

He added: “Obviously this is a big decision for the country. We have to be sure that the money is there to complete the project and we are looking at all of those pieces and then I will come back and I will make an announcement as to the next steps.”

His comments came after he addressed a healthcare conference at Dublin’s Burlington Hotel.

The chairman of the HSE board Dr Frank Dolphin, who also addressed delegates, said it was a pity that “in all of the noise about the location of a building, we are losing sight of the fact that we must develop the highest level of tertiary care for our children, and that point is being lost in the arguments about location”.

The controversial decision to locate the hospital at the Mater site was made by the last government. Mr Gallagher’s predecessor as chairman of the paediatric hospital development board, Philip Lynch, resigned last October after he too questioned the suitability of the site and whether it might be built cheaper elsewhere.

He later claimed the decision had been political, something denied by former minister for health Mary Harney and the HSE.

Dr Dolphin said all the professional reports indicated that there were special requirements for the children’s hospital. “I continue to be concerned about the fact that there are a small group of people who are extremely well organised and who continue to come out with a line of more implication than fact about the hospital.”

Eilish Hardiman, chief executive of the hospital’s development board, said yesterday she still expected the new hospital to be built by 2015, subject to planning.

Meanwhile, Dr Reilly is to attend a meeting of the HSE board next Thursday.

Dr Dolphin said it was the Minister’s prerogative to make changes to the board. He did not think the HSE would be abolished, but believed there would be structural changes ahead.