Next move on the children’s hospital

 

Sir, – It defies logic that the Government would proceed to build a new children’s hospital in a confined space on 8.7 acres when there is 1,750 acres in the Phoenix Park. Contained within the park are 160 acres designated for Áras an Uachtaráin. Surely the size of the Áras property could be reduced to say 40 acres without difficulties, leaving 120 acres to be set aside to build the new children’s hospital, along with a new national maternity hospital and in time if necessary, a new general hospital.

This site could also contain specifically designed apartments for trainee nurses and doctors. There would also be ample space to provide free parking, I would suggest, for patients’ families and staff. It might be necessary to locate the hospital at a different location in the park for cost and access efficiency.

The Phoenix Park has the added attraction of incorporating the zoo and its facilities, providing family relaxation and entertainment.

The park is also adjacent to Heuston railway station which services a lot of the country as well as being proximate to the M50. Planning matters could be expedited through legislation if necessary, to avoid any unnecessary delays. Undoubtedly a greenfield site would prove much cheaper and better for all stakeholders.

It is time for all our politicians to bite the bullet and admit that the current development should be abandoned and more particularly when the main contractor, BAM, has offered to withdraw from the project without adverse contractual consequences. – Yours, etc,

JOHN JOYCE,

Ballinrobe,

Co Mayo.

A chara, – The spiralling cost of the children’s hospital has the potential to undermine the Government. Apart from blowing a big hole in its glossy capital development plan, more significantly perhaps the controversy has blown a big hole in the Government’s public relations image. In particular it has taken the sheen off two of its star performers.

From now on the Taoiseach will be seen as “low-balling” Leo and the Minister for Health as “I’m sorry” Simon. – Is mise,

JOHN GLENNON,

Hollywood, Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Am I the only citizen of this country who doesn’t mind that the new children’s hospital is running over budget?

Judging by the singularity of media expression we should just fill in the excavations at St James’s Hospital and make do with the existing children’s health facilities.

There are numerous reasons why I, as a taxpayer, am not bothered by the building costs at St James’s.

1. There are always going to be vested interests in such a big project; no matter where it is built there will be an expert who says it should be built somewhere else. 2. The alma mater from one medical college will always fight hard for the new university hospital to be connected with their institutional grouping. 3. We could afford a €2 billion hospital in every one of the 26 counties for the same cost as the bank bailout. 4. For every €100 million of a cost overrun each individual citizen will pay approximately €5. 5. We will spend the equivalent total budget of this new hospital treating type 2 diabetes and obesity in 2019 and at least the same every year after; we could build three-quarters of the hospital for what alcohol abuse costs this State. 6. The Government can currently borrow money with virtually no interest, meaning that if we only service the interest on any borrowings we can pay back the capital in 20 years time. 7. This State has a wretched track record of caring for children. We can start to put this right by spending a few quid on the little ones. 8. Opposition politicians, especially Sinn Féin, give out about everything and but never offer solutions. 9. This hospital is like a small city, no planner could design every aspect of it sitting at a desk, it is simply not possible for a job like this not to have overruns.

For all these reasons I wish the people responsible for building this hospital are just left alone to do it. Does anyone out there feel the same? Evidence in the media would suggest not. – Yours, etc,

STEPHEN KILANE,

Ranelagh, Dublin 6.

Sir, – One very practical way to control – and hopefully cut down – the astronomical, and ever-burgeoning, cost of the new national children’s hospital would be to re-visit the design of the building.

Surely a simple rectangular or square block would be much less costly to build, equip and operate than the Aviva Stadium-like elliptical structure currently on the drawing board?

When this national children’s institution is eventually built, what will matter most will be the quality of the hospital services it will provide, and having the necessary world-class medical and ancillary staff on board.

Recent reports that there may not be sufficient medical consultants to ensure the new satellite children’s wing at Blanchardstown Hospital opens on time in July underlines this point.

At the end of the day, what we need is not a grandiose building but a world-class paediatric centre. – Yours, etc,

STEPHEN O’BYRNES,

Morehampton Road,

Dublin 4.

Sir, – Suppliers are not always the enemy.

In the current debate over the escalating cost of developing the new national children’s hospital the contractor, BAM, have acted in very pragmatic fashion, saying, if you don’t want us we will go.

However, has anybody asked BAM for help?

I have been involved in a number of projects over the years where designers have delivered plans which far exceeded budget when priced. I found that turning to the preferred builder and seeking their advice on reducing costs usually gave positive results.

How often have we seen building projects with expensive useless or impractical features.

The Government should consider sitting down with BAM and ask the question, how can you save us money? – Yours, etc,

BRIAN MURPHY,

Dublin 6W.