Plan for a new children's hospital
Sir, – John Sheehan, well- known surgeon and engineer, made a magnanimous offer (Opinion March 2nd) to make available his own expertise on a voluntary basis to build the new children’s hospital in a parkland setting outside Dublin adjacent to motorways.
It was his expertise together with that of colleagues that brought about the building of the Blackrock, Galway and Hermitage Clinics: all complete on time and to budget. If the Government turns down this exceptional offer of help we should all want to know why. A similar offer of help was rejected in 2005 without explanation. He also asks the pertinent question: where did the €36 million, so far spent without effect on the children’s hospital, go? This is “our” money, surely we are entitled to know the answer? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The determination of both An Taoiseach and the Minister for Health to find a solution for the current stalemate that affects the construction of the national paediatric hospital is welcome. The solution needs to be the correct one and not simply the one most rapidly achieved.
The suggestion that an answer might be reached by scaling down the current Mater plan is worrying, as it is not clear what components would be jettisoned. The idea that the original hospital planned for the Mater site was “oversized” is hardly credible, since this plan required the establishment of an additional, totally separate hospital facility in Tallaght, in order to produce space for day case activity.
Hopefully, the review group established by the Minister will acknowledge that the Mater site is of inadequate size for the hospitals planned to be located there.
The importance of co-locating the national paediatric hospital with another hospital institution has been much discussed but the precise purpose of co-location has not been fully teased out. In broad terms, it is clearly advantageous to have a large teaching hospital nearby where some of the clinical expertise, educational and research activities will enhance the performance of the paediatric hospital. However, it is now evident that the most critical need for co-location is to be sited in close proximity with a maternity hospital. Premature births and babies with serious birth defects need urgent, complex medical care and this can be best provided in a state-of-the-art paediatric hospital. A greenfield site will not provide such co-location.
A recent novel suggestion is to co-locate the paediatric hospital on the site of the Coombe Women’s Hospital where there is space for this additional facility. A very large expansion area also exists on vacant adjoining land. This would immediately solve the co-location requirement and provide an excellent solution for locating our national paediatric hospital. This suggestion should be given careful consideration. – Yours, etc,