Two key roles for the development of the new national children’s hospital at the St James’ Hospital campus in Dublin could not be filled within official pay guides.
The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB), which is overseeing development of the €1bn facility, broke salary caps set by the Department of Health to hire two key staff.
The NPHDB said the two roles were filled by paying “market rates.” The board said it had paid the two staff members a total of €49,211 in excess of Department of Health pay guidelines in 2016.
The projected cost of the major infrastructural project has soared from a 2012 estimate of €404m to €1bn.
Such projections do not include the cost of IT and medical equipment.
Details about the difficulty in recruiting staff and the breaching of salary guidelines are certain to raise concern about the ability of the new hospital to stay within budget.
In its latest annual report, the NPHDB said it was still pursuing permission for the increased pay rates with the Department of Health, who were also consulting with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on the issue.
The NPHDB is tasked with planning, designing, building, and equipping the new children’s hospital.
It also has to prepare plans for the transfer of services from existing children’s hospitals, Our Lady’s Children Hospital, Crumlin, Temple Street Children’s Hospital, and the National Chldren’s Hospital, Tallaght, as well as seeking philanthropic contributions to help defray the capital cost of the new facility.
The new hospital will have 473 beds in single rooms, while it will also operate two smaller, satellite centres, at Tallaght and Blanchardstown.
The NPHDB said it had spent, cumulatively, €65m on the new hospital to date, including expenditure of €28.7m last year. A total of €21.8m had been allocate to the design team.
The NPHDB received over €28.6m in State funding last year.
It employed 25 staff at the end of 2016, with a wage and expenses bill of over €2.2m.
The new hospital is scheduled to open in 2021.
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