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National Children’s Hospital site

Mahatma Gandhi once said “A nation will be judged by how it treats its weakest members”.

If this is true then the impending decision by the cabinet over the location of the new Children’s Hospital will be a telling display of affection to those in the most vulnerable positions in this country, sick children and their families.

The Dolphin review group delivered its report to the Minister of Health six weeks ago and it is up to the cabinet to draw a new conclusion on the whereabouts of the New Children’s Hospital, which it has not yet done. However, history repeats itself and it seems in this country each government merely repeats afresh the same mistakes of the last.

Thus, I am writing to offer some hindsight from my own experience of children’s healthcare in an effort to help break the chain of blind decision-making that has diseased this new development thus far.

Personally, I can firmly say that surviving childhood cancer is hard enough, but dealing with children’s healthcare in this country undoubtedly made the situation for my parents and siblings, as well as myself, beyond bearable.

If I had been asked, which neither I, nor any other past patients have been, I would have said I want space. Not small cramped wards, with limited facilities but up-to-date spacious wards with room to treat, live and play. I don’t want anyone to repeat my experience when, as a young teenage girl, I was confined to my cramped double room while on chemotherapy because there was a bug in the ward, with nothing but a commode, and a sheet to cover the window to try to spare my decency, as a young teenage girl, conditions my mother remembers as like that of the third world.

I would have reminded them of the simple necessity of having room for a large car park.

As 75% of patients, like me, travel from outside Dublin, I would demand an accessible location alongside the M50, so that parents do not have to deal with the difficulties of congested traffic and navigating Dublin’s inner city roads.

I want a site that allows space for future expansion and combines different institutions of research, education and investment.

And it all starts with the new Children’s Hospital.

Where is there a site that meets this criteria? Perhaps the most glaringly obvious is the review group’s submission of the James Connolly hospital in Blanchardstown.

Rachel Lavin
NCHA Youth Ambassador
Co Roscommon