Senior medics say maternity facility must be built close to children’s hospital


Senior medical figures have called on the Government to either build a new maternity hospital alongside the planned new children’s hospital at St James’s or to move the project to the Coombe women’s hospital.

The New Children’s Hospital Alliance campaign group yesterday claimed that newborn children could die as a result of the Government’s decision not to locate the facility adjacent to a maternity hospital. It wants Minister for Health James Reilly to move the location of the project to the Coombe.

The first steps towards planning the new hospital took place yesterday when staff from St James’s met Department of Health officials. A meeting with Dr Reilly and senior officials is planned soon.

Initial briefing

The chairman of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, businessman Harry Crosbie, visited the site yesterday for an initial briefing. Mr Crosbie wants to stay on in the post, although his term of office ends next month.

The Mater hospital said it was too early to know whether it would have to return the site originally proposed for the project to the Sisters of Mercy.

A spokesman confirmed the order had offered the land to the State free for the purpose of building a children’s hospital.

The board of Temple Street children’s hospital expressed its concern at the Government’s failure to build a maternity hospital at the same time as the new children’s hospital is being built at St James’s.

The board, which held an emergency meeting yesterday, said it awaited confirmation from Dr Reilly on “the maternity hospital offering” at St James’s.

The chairs of the medical boards of the three existing children’s hospital also urged the Minister to proceed without delay with plans to build a maternity hospital at St James’s.

In a statement, they welcomed the Government decision to build the children’s hospital on the St Jamess site but said the facility needed to be tri-located with an adult hospital and a maternity hospital.

The letter was signed by Dr Ciara Martin of the National Children’s Hospital in Tallaght, Dr Stephanie Ryan of Temple Street Childrens University Hospital and Dr Seán Walsh of Our Ladys Childrens Hospital in Crumlin.

It was also signed by Dr Colm Costigan, clinical director of the three Dublin children’s hospital and Prof Alf Nicholson, clinical lead of the HSE’s national paediatric programme.Alliance spokeswoman Róisín Healy said it “wasn’t good enough” for Dr Reilly to say that a maternity hospital would “ultimately” be built beside the children’s hospital on the St James’s campus.

She pointed out that every year up to 500 seriously ill children have to be transferred to ICU units in childrens hospitals.

“Undoubtedly, some children will die because they are too ill to be moved in an ambulance.”

Mr Crosbie said his board was not wedded to the Mater site and members were anxious to progress the project no matter where it was built.

Up to half of the design work done for the Mater bid could be reused in planning the building at St James’s, he said.