The new national children’s hospital

 

Sir, – Children, families, clinicians and people working throughout the paediatric health system in Ireland have been talking about the need for a new children’s hospital for decades. It is now seven years since the decision was made to locate it on the campus shared with St James’s Hospital, and three years since planning permission was granted.

The location was chosen because co-locating with St James’s Hospital provides significant clinical benefits to the children and young people who will be treated in Ireland’s new children’s hospital. We fully support that decision.

The Government’s stated strategy is based on tri-location and it has been confirmed that the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital will, in time, relocate to the campus shared with St James’s Hospital, delivering on this strategy for the benefit of mothers and infants.

As part of the new model of care, in addition to the children’s hospital, there will be two paediatric outpatients and urgent care centres, one at Connolly Hospital and one at Tallaght University Hospital.

The Connolly facility is practically complete and will open this July, bringing acute paediatric services to west Dublin for the first time.

Given all of the above, the suggestion as made in your paper by James Sheehan, that the location of the new children’s hospital could, or should, be changed does a serious disservice to all of us who are working in acute paediatric services, and the patients that we treat every day (“It’s not too late to move the national children’s hospital”, Opinion & Analysis, March 21st).

The hospital is being built at the best location and construction is well under way. The staff from the three children’s hospitals are working as one under the newly established Children’s Health Ireland and we are all focused on, and looking forward to, providing services to children, young people and their families in the new children’s hospital on a campus shared with St James’s in 2023. – Yours, etc,

Dr PETER GREALLY,

Clinical Director,

Children’s Health

Ireland (CHI);

Dr CIARA MARTIN,

Paediatric Executive Lead,

CHI at Tallaght;

Dr SEAN WALSH,

Site CEO,

CHI at Crumlin;

Dr ADRIENNE FORAN,

Clinical Director,

CHI at Temple Street;

Dr MARTIN WHITE MD,

Neonatology

Speciality Lead, CHI;

Prof OWEN SMITH CBE,

Academic Lead, CHI,

Professor of Paediatrics, UCD and CHI at Crumlin,

Clinical Lead for Children

and Adolescents and

Young Adults with Cancer;

Prof ALAN IRVINE,

Consultant Paediatric

Dermatologist, CHI

and Crumlin,

St James’s Hospital;

Dr EMMA CURTIS,

Medical Director,

National Paediatric

Hospital Development Board NPHDB,

Consultant Paediatrician

at the National Children’s

Hospital, Tallaght;

Prof JONATHAN

O’B HOURIHANE,

UCC, Member of the

NPHDB Board.

Sir, – As James Sheehan states, it is now obvious that a catastrophic error has been made in choosing to build what will be the only children’s hospital in Ireland on the restricted St James’s site in Dublin’s inner city. The deficiencies in the hospital directly resulting from the chosen location are well documented, not least of which is the serious difficulty patients will encounter in trying to access the St James’s site. Some 90 per cent of these patients will come from outside the M50.

It transpires now that not only will the out-of-control costs use up funding that was to be spent on critically needed medical facilities throughout the country, but Dr Sheehan points out that the choice of site means that the running costs of the hospital will also be excessive. It is evident that the taxpayers would be paying too much for the children’s hospital for as long as it operates.

If it were a hospital that was going to adequately meet the needs of our most seriously ill children, it might be argued that it would be worth the sacrifice of taxpayers and of people around the country who would be deprived of critical medical care locally. However, what makes the continuation of the building of the most expensive children’s hospital in the world totally unacceptable is that the hospital they are building for our sickest children is so inferior to what could still be provided on a greenfield site. – Yours, etc,

VALERIN O’SHEA,

Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

Sir, – I am a parent of two seriously ill children and chairman of the New Crumlin Hospital Group, which has has lobbied tirelessly for a new children’s hospital since 2002.

The last thing sick children need is another review of the site.

With regard to 25 per cent of the staff of an existing children’s hospital being unwilling to relocate to the new hospital, a children’s hospital is for the children. We would ask them to consider all the benefits of the new hospital for the children and their parents, rather than their understandable concern at being discommoded.

The New Crumlin Hospital Group has been lobbying for a decent facility since 2002. We are dismayed that there are still people trying to reopen a debate about where it should be located.

Each time there has been a decision about the location of the new hospital there have been people suggesting a better site, often only considering factors that are not medically driven.

There has been review after review of every painfully slow decision made on the various proposed sites.

What the children need is an end to the debate and for the completion of their new hospital, even at great expense, in the shortest timeframe. – Yours, etc,

LOUIS RODEN,

Dublin 6.