Children’s hospital twice size of Croke Park

THE new Children’s Hospital of Ireland will be more than twice the size of Croke Park, it emerged yesterday.

The €750 million hospital, which will have up to 399 single, en-suite bedrooms, will be built on a 6.5 acre site beside the Mater Hospital in Dublin.

The building, with floor space measuring one million square feet, will also have 800 car spaces and it is planned to locate a Metro railway station beside it.

Three Dublin hospitals will transfer to the new facility – Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, Temple Street and the National Children’s Hospital in Tallaght.

Health Minister Mary Harney said the world-class facility would be developed as quickly as possible and would lead to savings of a minimum of €25 million a year, as well as delivering the best possible outcomes for children.

“This is a number one building priority in the health area over the next number of years and, yes, building will be completed on time,” she said.

The Murray O’Laoire/Brian O’Connell/NBBJ consortium was selected from 17 national and international consortia as the preferred candidate to design the new hospital.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said he welcomed the fact that all three children’s hospitals were fully engaged in processing the plan.

“The design team will begin their work immediately and their target is to begin building work by the last quarter of next year and to have the hospital opened in 2014,” Mr Cowen said.

“We now spend €250m on the running costs of the three paediatric hospitals in the city each year.”

Mr Cowen said the hospital would ensure that such resources provided the maximum benefit for patients.

The project’s chief executive, Eilish Hardiman, said the rooms would be designed so that parents could sleep comfortably with their children.

Health Service Executive director of capital projects and shared services, Brian Gilroy, said the Sisters of Mercy, who owned the Mater Hospital, had given the site free of charge to the state at a time when it was valued at €90m.

Mr Gilroy said that presenting a package containing 40% of the design element before construction work began would help control costs.

Mr Gilroy said the state would be meeting €400m of the cost of the new facility with the balance coming from charitable donations, revenue from the car park, research and the Ronald McDonald home from home project.

Teresa Shallow, co-founder of Save Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Campaign, said they welcomed the development of a new national children’s hospital but would continue to fight to have services retained at Crumlin.

“We believe that having one national hospital will have catastrophic results, with parents trying to access the facility during rush hour and having to travel longer distances,” she said.

“The big boys have spoken now. They are going against all the advice they have been given but we will never give up on Crumlin.”

The New Crumlin Hospital Group, which has been lobbying for a new state of the art children’s hospital since 2002, said nothing should delay the new facility opening on time.

While they recognised the wonderful work by staff at Crumlin, they were appalled at conditions in the hospital.

Children in Hospital Ireland, which has been campaigning for years for the development of a new paediatric hospital for Ireland, said the new facility would put the country at the cutting edge in the delivery of hospital services for children.

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