The external design of the new National Children’s Hospital has been unveiled.
Children and young people have been providing input, advice and feedback on the new hospital which will have a distinctive oval shape; therapeutic gardens on the roof; and an inner courtyard.
The four-storey hospital that rises to seven storeys at its highest point above ground will be built within the existing St James’s Hospital campus in Dublin.
Members of the Youth Advisory Council met Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and the project directors to see the design for the €650m hospital project.
Mr Varadkar, described the design that incorporates the two satellite hospitals planned for Tallaght and Blanchardstown in Dublin as “breathtaking”.
“It’s clear from the open-plan building, the gardens, the sports facilities and the state-of-the-art wards that this is a unique building,” he said.
The design team has pointed out that the overarching objective is to give the new children’s hospital a memorable quality that captures the imagination of children and young people with a unique sense of place.
The proposed hospital will have 42 critical care beds; 18 neonatal critical care beds; and 380 single in-patient rooms with en-suite bathrooms and an overnight bed for parents.
Other family accommodation includes a 60-bed facility near the entrance.
Planning permission for the development is expected to be lodged next month and the hospital is scheduled to open in 2020.
Mr Varadkar said it was the largest health infrastructure in the history of the State.
Chief executive of the Children’s Hospital Group, Eilísh Hardiman, said their design brief was “deliberately challenging”.
She said it was critical that their ambitions from the outset were for the highest possible design standards as the country’s children and young people deserved nothing less.
Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar has announced the establishment of a steering group to advise on the development of a national maternity strategy.
While Ireland had very good maternity care that was reflected in perinatal and maternal mortality rates, a number of high-profile cases had caused public concern about the safety and quality of maternity services, the minister said.
The establishment of a national maternity strategy was one of the recommendations of the report by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) into the care of Savita Halappanavar.
Ms Halappanavar died at University Hospital Galway in October 2012 after being admitted when she was 17 weeks pregnant and miscarrying.
“The new national maternity strategy will put the needs of mothers, babies and their families at its centre,” said Mr Varadkar.
“The focus will be on maximising patient safety, quality of care, clinical outcomes, as well as the desirability of greater patient choice, the move towards more services in the community and a renewed focus on prevention and well being,” he said.
Mr Varadkar has asked the steering group that includes service-user representatives and midwives from all areas of the health service to report to him by the end of the year. The group will hold its first meeting early this month.
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