Children’s hospital is a valid priority


Sir, – I write in response to “Six months wasted since last Covid lockdown” (Opinion & Analysis, October 14th), written by Senator Michael McDowell. Senator McDowell’s focus is on the lack of prioritisation of the development of intensive-care unit (ICU) beds in the country – with his view that the provision of additional facilities should be prioritised above all else. Indeed, Mr McDowell asks, “Was it considered that having ICU capacity at half the necessary level was a risk worth taking in order, say, to build a children’s hospital?”

The oversight in this opinion is that the investment in the new children’s hospital is doing exactly what he is calling for – planned investment in critical care facilities for our children and adolescents who make up 25 per cent of our population.

The substantial investment being made by the State in the new children’s hospital will deliver 60 critical-care beds (paediatric ICU, cardiac ICU and neonatal ICU) – meeting the forecasted national need for ICU capacity for our children and young people. Not a bad investment when you consider the needs it will be delivering on. It will also provide 380 individual inpatient bedrooms (each with an en-suite and a bed for a parent), a facility that will contribute in an immeasurable way to the ability to isolate any patient as needed – something that would be invaluable now as we strive to deal with the challenges presented by the current public health pandemic.

All of us in Children’s Health Ireland welcome the prioritisation by Government of the investment in children’s health as, I believe, do the 334,500 children and families that we treat and care for annually. It is in the national interest that the clinical and healthcare needs of children and adolescents are finally being given the priority they deserve. I can think of nothing that I would prioritise ahead of that. – Yours, etc,


Chief Executive,

Children’s Health

Ireland, Dublin 8.