Review of children's hospital project is not yet under way

 

THE REVIEW of the controversial National Children’s Hospital project in Dublin has not yet begun, it has emerged in the Dáil.

Minister for Health James Reilly told the House that before the review could commence “further information is required, especially in respect of the bottoming out of the money that we have available”. He said, “I was given an estimate for the building cost by the last chairman of the board but there was a €10 million variance between that and the figures that had been produced by the HSE [Health Service Executive]”.

He wanted to “be assured that we are comparing like with like, so I have asked for a costing to be done if the exact same hospital, with the exact same specifications, were built on a greenfield site”. While he was “acutely aware that every month this goes by costs the taxpayer €500,000, there is the possibility of hundreds of millions being lost if we build a place without foreseeing all the problems involved, and in the absence of all the facts”.

The Department of Health confirmed 10 days ago that a review of the project would be undertaken, and once started would take four weeks to complete. The Minister said the details of the review would be announced shortly and it “is absolutely our intention that the review will be carried out by persons of international repute”.

Two chairmen of the board overseeing the project have resigned in the controversy. Dr Reilly said a new interim chairman, Harry Crosbie, had been appointed. Dr Reilly said he had been involved in talks to brief himself about the project. “Obviously, we want to ensure it is built in the quickest fashion possible and in the right place at an affordable cost.”

Fianna Fáil’s spokesman on health Billy Kelleher had asked whether the review would take four weeks to start or complete, what were the terms of reference, and whether outside consultants had been brought in.

He said Dr Reilly had expressed concern about the proposed location of the hospital. On whether he still held that view, he asked: “Will you park them while you wait for the independent review body to report?” In the event “that it makes a recommendation contrary to the Minister’s opinion, what will happen then, or will he use this as an excuse to delay the project further?”

The Minister said he wanted “to ensure any access issues will be adjudged and taken into consideration vis-a-vis the benefits of co-location from a clinical outputs viewpoint – in other words, the benefit of having an adult hospital located beside a paediatric hospital”.