Mater: We’re still best for children’s hospital

The Mater Hospital claims it remains the best site for the location of a national children’s hospital after it unveiled plans for a redesign of the original project which was unexpectedly rejected by An Bord Pleanála last February.

The chairman of the Mater Hospital board, Donal Walsh, said the revised plans could see the much needed facility built faster and cheaper than at any other location.

He also said it could be delivered cheaper than the original €650m cost, although he did not quantify by how much.

The Mater is still seen as the front-runner in the Government’s choice, despite competing offers and proposals for its development on greenfield sites on the outskirts of Dublin.

James Reilly, the health minister, has established a review group to examine the viability of more than 15 possible locations. It is due to issue its findings within a few weeks.

The Mater, in conjunction with Temple St Children’s Hospital and the Rotunda maternity hospital, yesterday revealed details of their new design.

Mr Walsh said the design had been facilitated by the offer of the Mercy order to give the use of the original Mater hospital building to the new children’s hospital.

He claimed the revised plans would address height concerns raised by An Bord Pleanála without losing space. The new building will have a maximum of 11 storeys — five floors less than the original scheme.

“The three-hospital partnership believes that this new planning solution addresses all concerns raised by An Bord Pleanála and is consistent with local area plans,” said Mr Walsh.

He pointed out that two independent reviews had already confirmed the Mater site was the best choice for the tri-location of an adult, children, and maternity hospital.

He warned that construction of the hospital would face delays of up to two-and-a-half years and additional design costs of €50m if another site is chosen.

Mr Walsh said the national children’s hospital would have independent governance but would enjoy shared services with the other two hospitals.

Brendan Kinsley, chairman of the Mater’s medical board, said the new Mater adult hospital, due to open in June, was designed with tri-location in mind.

A new building for the Rotunda on the same 13-acre campus is also due to be completed by 2016.

Despite ongoing criticism about access to the Mater site, Prof Kinsley said it was deemed satisfactory by both An Bord Pleanála and independent reviewers.


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