A decision on the location of the proposed national children’s hospital will be made in the next number of weeks, according to Health Minister Dr James Reilly.
His comments follow a newspaper report yesterday that Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown is being tipped as the favoured location.
If Connolly is chosen, it will represent a major blow to those who have worked for the past number of years towards securing the new hospital for the Mater campus, where about €35m has already been invested.
It also emerged yesterday that a number of hospital consultants from the Mater, Temple St Children’s Hospital, and the Rotunda have written to ministers expressing concern about a greenfield site near the M50 on the outskirts of Dublin.
Connolly Hospital is off the M50 and has 50 acres of land on its own campus and another 89 acres in the adjoining National Sports campus.
One of the signatories to the letter, Stephanie Ryan, consultant paediatric radiologist and chair of the medical board at Temple St, said they had written to ministers out of concern that no decision had yet been made in relation to where the new hospital will be located.
"We in the children’s hospitals in Dublin have been looking for a new hospital for several years... in the present recession it’s particularly difficult to provide services across three sites so there is an urgent need for a single purpose-built children’s hospital," Ms Ryan said, speaking on RTÉ radio.
A Mater/Temple St/Rotunda partnership is lobbying for the new hospital to be located at the Mater campus, to include a new Rotunda Hospital, which would fulfil the recommendation that the children’s hospital be tri-located with an adult and a maternity hospital.
Yesterday Ms Ryan said that while access was important — access would be easier from the M50 than the city centre, where the Mater is located — their preferred vision was for the hospital to be tri-located. However she said it was the "urgency of the building that was most important at the moment".
The minister established an independent review group to consider the implications of the decision of An Bórd Pleanála last February to reject the Mater site. The group gave its report to the minister in June.
Yesterday the minister said the process of evaluation of the report and the various options therein was still continuing.