Developer renews offer to build children's hospital

THE property developer who has offered to build Ireland’s children’s hospital on a non-profit basis has called for a reassessment of the decision to build the much-needed facility at the controversial Mater site in Dublin.

Noel Smyth said he wanted the development board to find out if there were still people like him prepared to build the hospital at cost so they could get the best deal for Irish children over the next 50 years.

Mr Smyth led a consortium in 2006 that offered to build the new children’s hospital at cost price and donate a site near Newlands Cross in Dublin.

The Health Service Executive, however, decided to build the €650 million hospital in the heart of Dublin’s north city centre, even though it is geographically challenged.

Mr Smyth, who was speaking on RTÉ radio yesterday, said his offer to build the hospital still stood and the business group had estimated that they could build a 585-bed paediatric hospital for about €150m less than the price quoted for a hospital on the Mater site.

He said the European Investment Bank told him that it would provide the charity set up to raise the cost of the hospital with 50% of the funding provided it had the backing of the Government.

Mr Smyth also revealed that he had been contacted recently by Philip Lynch, the former head of the board set up in 2007 to design and build the new hospital.

It is understood Mr Lynch resigned last week over concerns about a gap in funding for the hospital and the decision to locate it on the Mater Hospital campus.

Mr Smyth said Mr Lynch had met him to discuss concerns expressed about the Mater Hospital site and his proposal to build the children’s hospital at Newlands Cross.

He told Mr Lynch that the consortium was still anxious to build the paediatric centre.

Mr Smyth said he asked Mr Lynch if he could make a new submission to the board about what they considered to be the right location for the hospital.

Mr Smyth said he sent Mr Lynch an outline of the submission he proposed to make and shortly after that heard that he had resigned his position.

Asked if Mr Lynch had told him why he resigned, Mr Smyth said he could not say.

Mr Lynch has not explained why he resigned.

Mr Smyth said the McKinsey Report, commissioned by the Government to assess paediatric healthcare in Ireland, which was published in February 2006, effectively excluded his offer.

While he was allowed to make a submission, he was told that the children’s hospital he had planned was not co-located with an adult hospital.

Mr Smyth said he was working on the basis that 70% of the children who would attend the hospital would be coming from outside Dublin and that there must be room for expansion.

He said the site was a mile from Tallaght Hospital and a mile-and-a-half from St James’s Hospital and that he had approached the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital about having the hospital on the Newlands Cross site in South Dublin County.



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