Smaller children’s hospital on Mater site ‘a possibility’

Building a smaller national children’s hospital on the Mater site in Dublin is a “distinct possibility”, Health Minister James Reilly has said.

The Cabinet met yesterday to consider An Bord Pleanála’s decision to turn down planning permission for the project.

Plans for the new children’s hospital at the site were ruled out by the planning body last week because it was too big.

Dr Reilly said the terms of reference for an expert group that would look at all options for the project would be finalised by the Cabinet next Tuesday.

The group, chaired by Dr Frank Dolphin, is to report back to the minister within four weeks of its first meeting. Dr Reilly said there would be no reduction in beds in any new design.

He said part of the original plan for the hospital was “grandiose,” with very large laboratories and some other facilities envisaged.

Dr Reilly said education and research facilities could be located in either Temple St Children’s Hospital or the Rotunda Hospital, both of which were just down the road from the Mater site.

The minister stressed that nothing had been ruled out at this point. However, while he was not “wedded” to the Mater site, he was not excluding it either.

“I want to make this very clear — we want the best environment for children to get the best treatment,” he said.

Chairman of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, Harry Crosbie, said the facility would be built on the Mater site. He felt that reducing the size of the hospital was silly but, if it had to be done, it would be done.

The board met yesterday to discuss the decision by the board to refuse planning permission for the children’s hospital.

A statement issued afterwards said the function of the board is to implement government policy in respect of the establishment of a new children’s hospital as a co-located facility. The board said it would work closely with the review group and assist in the completion of its work.

Since last Thursday the board has had ongoing contact with the Department of Health and is set to work with the review group.

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