Almost €60m has been spent on the new National Children’s Hospital which has yet to be built, it emerged yesterday.
Plans to build the long-promised hospital on the grounds of St James’s Hospital in Dublin were lodged with An Bord Pleanála yesterday.
An earlier plan to build the hospital at the Mater site in the city was rejected by the planning authority in 2012.
Around €40m was spent on the Mater site and around €35m in State funding has been written off.
The new hospital at St James’s Hospital will cost around €650m. Last year between €6m and €7m was spent on the plan for the site, with a further €10m spent this year to date.
The Government decided in November 2012 that St James’s Hospital would be the location of the new children’s hospital.
If the planning application is successful, building work could begin next year and the hospital should be fully operational by 2020.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar said construction could start within six months of getting the go-ahead for planning.
“If it doesn’t go ahead well then yes, some money will be lost and, of course, any delays add cost as well because of construction inflation,” he said. “Any delay can add to the cost, so I hope they’ll make a decision expeditiously.”
Building work could start as early as next February or March. Satellite centres in Blanchardstown and Tallaght could be opened in 2017, with the children’s hospital opening in 2019.
“So after decades of debate and controversy around this, we have just one hurdle to get over,” Mr Varadkar said, adding that there is no plan B if the St James’s project does not get approval.
Asked if he thinks the plan will be passed, he said he is confident it would be, but not complacent.
Mr Varadkar said lessons had been learned from the previous failed bid for the Mater site. Various issues as to why the Mater application was refused had been taken into account.
The St James’s site was much bigger, he said: “It is almost three times the size of the Mater site and does not go any higher than seven storeys. There is also a lot of room for future expansion, which is very important.”
Mr Varadkar said the site was chosen on clinical grounds — what was best in terms of outcomes and survival rates for children — and would be located next to the biggest teaching hospital in the State and a maternity hospital, when the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital moved on site.
“It is going to be one of the biggest and most modern hospitals in all of Europe and will therefore become a magnet hospital — the kind of place that the best doctors, nurses, and therapists from all over the world will want to come and work,” said Mr Varadkar.
The hospital will have 380 single in-patient rooms with an overnight bed for parents. There will be 87 daycare beds. It will be seven storeys at its highest point but most of the building will be four storeys high.
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