Plan for new children’s hospital

 

Sir, – We note the recent comments by the Minister for Health and Children, Dr James Reilly regarding the National Paediatric Hospital (Front page, May 16th). It appears this much-needed facility will not now open before 2019 at the earliest.

Against this backdrop, is it not an opportune time to reconsider the vacant site adjacent to the Coombe Women’s Hospital (CWH)? In the context of: 1. The recognised planning risks associated with the development of the National Paediatric Hospital (NPH) on the current St James’s Hospital (SJH) site as identified by Clear and Martin in their report to Dr Reilly in 2012, 2. The inclusion of the Coombe with St James’s in the new “Dublin Midlands” Hospital Group, and 3. The recognition of the Dublin children’s hospitals as a separate hospital group under the reconfiguration plan announced on May 14th, we wish to appeal to the Minister to seriously consider the readily available Player Wills and Boy’s Brigade site on the South Circular Road adjacent to the Coombe as the optimal location for the development of the new NPH.

By extending the notional boundaries of the St James’s campus eastwards, to include the CWH and the contiguous vacant site, the McKinsey criteria for co-location with a major adult teaching hospital will be satisfied. On this vacant and available 6.2 hectare site the NPH could be built more quickly, cheaply and at considerably lower planning risk than elsewhere. It would also provide immediate co-location with a fully operational tertiary referral major maternity hospital and so provide for the safe and immediate transfer of critically ill newborn infants via a short internal corridor rather than by a hazardous ambulance road journey. It would be less than 600 metres from the nearby SJH, thus meeting the adult co-location criteria.

Of significant importance – in terms of cost and speed of delivery of the project – construction on the South Circular Road site would not require any temporary decanting of facilities from St James’s and thus would not interfere with the ongoing operation of any clinical services. It would avoid the capital cost of building a new maternity hospital at St James’s Hospital.

Furthermore the SCR site is future-proofed for expansion of the NPH and would also allow for the future expansion of adult services on the current SJH site.

As a group of independent retired paediatric specialists we have no partisan interests. We are not suggesting that the Government’s decision in relation to co-location with SJH be changed. However we are convinced that locating the NPH on the Player Wills and Boys’ Brigade site which backs on to the CWH site would very significantly facilitate and accelerate the overall project and could be achieved at the lowest planning and financial risk. The Dolphin Report has recognised the planning risks associated with the current chosen site at St James’s and the planning advantages of the South Circular Road site. If history were to repeat itself with the failure of a second planning application then the consequences for the children of this State could be disastrous. – Yours, etc,

Dr JERRY KELLEHER,

Dr FIN BREATNACH,

Dr DESMOND DUFF,

Dr FRIEDA GORMAN,

Prof EDWARD J GUINEY,

Prof BARRY O’DONNELL,

Prof O CONOR WARD,

C/o Grosvenor Square,

Rathmines,

Dublin 6.