Its chief executive Andrew Kelly blamed the decision on the huge costs, estimated at between €3.5m and €4m, associated with developing a car park on the CUH campus to facilitate the new centre.
As the proposed site at CUH is being used as a car park, Mr Kelly said the initial plan was to temporarily relocate the cars and replace the spaces with an underground 100-space car park.
“The IBTS was informed it would have to pay up to €4m to CUH for car parking. There is no money in our allocation for that sort of expense and we can’t spend that much public money on a car park, so we are evaluating the option of St Finbarr’s,” Mr Kelly said.
He said the costs associated with the St Finbarr’s Hospital site option would be “minimal”.
He confirmed last night the decision to move to another site has been agreed “in principal” by the IBTS board and issues surrounding the switch have been clarified with the Department of Health.
However, two IBTS members, Dr Paul Browne and Dr Hilary O’Leary, expressed a view at a board meeting in January the new centre should be located on a teaching hospital campus.
But Mr Kelly said, as testing will not be carried out at the new centre, there will be fewer scientists working at the site.
He said this will lessen the possible synergies that might have been available if the centre was located on a teaching hospital campus.
The site change is the latest twist in a long-running saga to secure the development of a new transfusion centre in Cork.
The IBTS has two major centres — the National Blood Centre built in 1999 next to St James’s Hospital, and the Cork centre at St Finbarr’s Hospital.
However, the ageing Cork centre has been in dire need of replacement for several years.
A campaign to secure funding for it has been ongoing since 1997.
A total of €12m funding was confirmed by the former health minister Mary Harney in December 2008 for the new facility which was to be built at CUH.
The IBTS was to provide up to €5m of its own resources towards the project. The centre will replace the current unit and will be involved in the collection and distribution of blood but will not carry out blood testing.