Mater may be site of new children’s hospital

MEDICAL sources last night indicated that the Mater Hospital would be the site of the new national children’s hospital.

At a meeting yesterday afternoon, the board of the Health Service Executive (HSE) endorsed the recommendation made to them by the Joint HSE and Department of Health task group.

Tánaiste Mary Harney has been informed of their choice and will bring this to the Cabinet for debate in the coming weeks.

A spokesman for the HSE last night refused to confirm that the Mater was the proposed new site saying it “will not be making any further comment until the recommendation has gone to Cabinet”.

Eight different locations were examined by the task group, including six Dublin hospitals and two private development consortiums.

These include St James’s, St Vincent’s, the Mater, Connolly, Beaumont, Tallaght, the Beacon Medical Group and Alburn Development, controlled by solicitor Noel Smith.

The McKinsey review — a report on best practice in the provision of paediatric care — found the State could support only one world-class children’s hospital, given its population.

It recommended the hospital be located in Dublin adjacent to an adult hospital with space for expansion and easily accessible to public transport.

However, by the time the report emerged, it is understood up to e45 million had already been spent on plans for a new paediatric hospital at the Mater after six years of project development. The project was allegedly on course to be completed in three years time.

The task force decision on the location of the proposed hospital was further delayed six weeks when it emerged the concerns of Dublin’s three maternity hospital would have to be considered, in light of proximity for “high-risk deliveries”.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was under pressure to retain a children’s hospital in his northside constituency. Temple Street Children’s Hospital is already there and Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children is in the Tánaiste’s constituency.

Plans for a single national children’s hospital were announced in February after the publication of the McKinsey report.

The Tánaiste has stressed that what is in the best interests of sick children will be the only criterion used in the development of new specialist paediatric services.

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