Further delay on completion date for National Children’s Hospital

Project delivery team to appear before Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee in attempt to explain cost overruns and delays

Work continues at the site of the new National Children's Hospital at St. James Hospital in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday February 7, 2019. A senior official in the Department of Health was made aware that the cost overruns at the National Children's Hospital had spiralled to over 400 million euro in September last year, the Dail has been told. See PA story POLITICS Hospital Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The timeline for completing the delayed National Children’s Hospital has slipped again, with completion of the project now not expected until October next year.

The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB), which is responsible for stewarding delivery of the project, will tell a Dáil committee on Thursday that the main contractor for the project has indicated that “substantial completion” will now be on October 29th, 2024.

This is more than two years after the initially contracted date of August 2022. After the building is completed, it will take several more months to finish fitting out and commissioning, raising the very real chance that no children will be treated in the hospital before the next general election, which must be held by March 2025.

Speaking in July, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that the hospital would be open by the end of next year or early in 2025 at the latest. However, that was based on a substantial completion date of May 2024, supplied by BAM, the main contractor for the project.


In an opening statement to be delivered to the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday morning, NPHDB chief executive David Gunning will say that the building is “well advanced but there is still some way to go to substantial completion”, with the typical case in buildings like this being that the last 10 per cent “is the slowest to complete”.

He will say that in the latest programme timeline the substantial completion date is October 29th, 2024 and “we are in constant engagement with BAM to ensure that the October 2024 substantial completion is achieved. All our efforts are focused on getting certainty on this date.”

Mr Gunning will not give an outline of the anticipated final cost of the project, despite an additional capital request being submitted to the Health Service Executive in May of this year. However, he will say that of the current overall capital budget of €1.433 billion, only €71 million is remaining.

He will update the committee on the large volume of cost claims submitted by BAM for additional spending, with 2,379 submitted by the end of September, with a value of €769 million. Of these, the employer’s representative has determined 1,610 claims with a value of €16.75 million and another €2.1 million has been agreed through a dispute management process.

There are two sets of proceedings between BAM and the NPHDB before the High Court.

Mr Gunning will say that despite challenges, construction on the hospital has “advanced significantly” since we last updated the committee in June 2022.

Elsewhere, it has emerged that a plan to withhold 15 per cent of payments due to BAM under a clause allowed in the contract has been reversed. Under the contract, the NPHDB can withhold these payments if BAM fails to provide a contract-compliant programme. However, a spokeswoman for the NPHDB said that while the measure had been due to come into effect for money due to the contractor in May and June of this year, it “addressed the contract breach in advance of any monies being withheld” when it issued a programme update in July.

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Chief executive of Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) Eilish Hardiman will also appear at the committee tomorrow. CHI is the body that delivers paediatric hospital care in the State.

She will tell the PAC that CHI is planning a detailed commissioning plan to kick in once the hospital is handed over.

“To ensure safe services for children and families on opening the hospital, all staff will need to be familiar with the building and new ways of working in a digital hospital,” she will say

“To do this, staff will receive training in their new teams, know how to use new equipment and will run scenarios such as running a ward, theatres and a helicopter landing. All of this activity will take place while 36,000 pieces of equipment are placed, installed and commissioned. It is a complex operation requiring meticulous planning.”

She will also tell the PAC that a level of non-compliant procurement is expected to continue at CHI, despite concerns previously raised by the PAC and progress made to bring the level down.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times