Hospital fears were raised months ago

Fears now being expressed by An Taisce — that a new national children’s hospital will not be co-located with a maternity hospital — were first raised months ago by independent paediatric specialists.

Ireland’s national trust is concerned that the country was “sleepwalking” into a situation where the new children’s hospital will not be co-located with a maternity hospital.

It said the apparent failure to co-locate the new children’s hospital with a maternity hospital, or to coherently plan for it, sent alarm bells ringing.

“Unless action is taken now, this reality will only be brought home to the wider public as the planning process unfolds — a time when it is too late to remedy the problem,” it warned in a letter to Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

A year ago, the Government selected St James’s Hospital in Dublin as the site of the new children’s hospital.

A site beside the Mater Hospital in Dublin had originally been chosen for the development of the hospital, but was abandoned when planning permission was refused.

Health Minister James Reilly has said the new hospital at St James’s would be ready in three years.

In May this year, seven retired paediatric specialists said a vacant site adjacent to the Coombe Women’s Hospital should be reconsidered.

“If history were to repeat itself with the failure of a second planning application then the consequences for the children of this State could be disastrous,” they warned.

The doctors, who highlighted their concerns in a letter to a national newspaper, included Dr Fin Breathnach, a member of the New Children’s Hospital Alliance.

Dr Breathnach said they were not suggesting that the Government’s decision in relation to co-location with St James’s be changed.

An Taisce points out, as the doctors did, that just east of the Coombe there are 15.3 acres of largely vacant land controlled largely by Nama and Dublin City Council.

“By extending the November 2012 decision to the entire campus of St James’s Hospital Group, this 15.3 acres can be bought for hospital development from Nama and Dublin City Council,” it said.

A statement from the Department of Health last night said the decision to choose the St James’s site ensured that the planned co-location with an adult hospital and, ultimately, tri-location with a maternity hospital, would be delivered.

“While the immediate priority is the building of the new children’s hospital, Minister Reilly and this Government are committed to tri-location with a maternity hospital on the St James’s campus,” the department said.


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