Harney insists Mater site is right place for children’s hospital

THE decision to build the National Children’s Hospital on the Mater site in Dublin is the right one, Health Minister Mary Harney has insisted.

The minister was commenting yesterday on Monday’s RTÉ Liveline text poll, when 89% of listeners who participated said they were not in favour of the Mater site.

Just 11% of the 15,438 votes made in the space of 10 minutes were in favour of the hospital being built in the geographically challenged area.

“I think if people were polled about the eight cancer centres a few years ago, we would have had a similar response,” she said.

“Many people seem to feel that every sick child in the country will have to come to the site of the Mater. Of course, that is not the case.

“I am satisfied that the decision that was made was the right decision,” the minister insisted after she addressed a healthcare conference at the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin.

“I think it is time we just got on and made it happen,” she said.

Ms Harney pointed out that on Monday she had met parents of children who had very complex illnesses and were frequent users of both Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin and Temple Street Children’s University Hospital. “Their message to me was: ‘Please make this happen. Don’t allow anything get in the way of this hospital proceeding.’”

Asked about the people who were concerned about the hospital being located on the Mater site, she said such people should realise that the project is being supported by the Faculty of Paediatrics at the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland.

“This row should not be about car parks and parking spaces. This is about very sick children getting the medical attention they need under one roof,” she said.

The development board of the new National Paediatric Hospital has already appointed planning consultants to advise on the planning stages of the Mater site project in a €144,000 contract of which details were published on the public services tender website on Monday.

Ms Harney said a father whose daughter passed away recently had told her that his child had to be taken by ambulance when she was very ill in Crumlin because the expertise was not within that hospital.

“That won’t happen in the future. The expertise will come to the children’s hospital,” she said.

“There is no other show in town so there is no point in people speculating about greenfield sites.”

Ms Harney said nobody had yet stood up the argument that €300m could be saved by building the hospital on a greenfield site. “The central issue here is having a new state-of-the-art children’s hospital adjacent to the Mater Hospital and also adjacent in time to a maternity hospital where high-risk pregnant mothers would have their delivery.”


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