A project brief for the new National Children's Hospital has been approved.
It includes 384 in-patient beds, 14 operating theatres and 62 critical care beds.
Health Minister James Reilly says the hospital can proceed to the planning phase once a design team is appointed.
“The new children’s hospital is hugely important for children and young people in Ireland and it is a priority for me, for this Government, for the Department of Health and for the HSE," Minister Reilly said.
"With the approval of the project brief, we can now proceed to the next stage of the project – the appointment of the Design Team and securing planning permission."
The new children’s hospital will be co-located with St James’s Hospital on its campus and will bring together the three existing Dublin paediatric hospitals (Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, Children’s University Hospital Temple Street and the National Children’s Hospital, part of Tallaght Hospital) into one entity.
This single hospital will provide tertiary and quaternary care for children throughout Ireland. In conjunction with two satellite centres, it will also provide secondary (or less complex) care for children from the Greater Dublin Area.
The satellite centres of the new children’s hospital will be built on the campuses of Tallaght and Connolly Hospitals.
Transition of services to the new hospital is expected to commence at the end of 2018, with the target date for delivery of the satellite centres being mid-2016.
CEO of the Children's Hospital Group Eilish Hardiman says the St James's site is the best location for the facility.
Critics say the St James's site is too small and is not accessible to families outside the capital who will make up the majority of the hospital's patients.
However Ms Hardiman says that's not the case, and that the facilities available at St James's make it the ideal site.
"Number one is scale, i.e. doing all the specialist work in one area," she said.
"And for paediatrics in particular, the second key clinical criteria is having as many clinical specialties on one campus (as possible).
"The project brief is the blueprint for the new children’s hospital," Minister Reilly said.
"A single tertiary hospital, supported by two satellite centres, means that highly specialised care and treatment for children can be centralised appropriately, for best outcomes."
The project brief sets out the scope, size, estimated cost and programme timelines for the new children’s hospital.
Capacity is planned to include:
- 384 in-patient beds including 62 critical care beds, all in single en-suite rooms;
- 85 daycare beds;
- 14 theatres in total, including three hybrid theatres to facilitate access to imaging during surgery;
- 111 outpatient consulting examination rooms across both the new children’s hospital and satellite centres;
- ED and urgent care facilities in both the new children’s hospital and satellite centres.
“I am delighted to approve the Project Brief following the Minister’s consent," said HSE Director General Tony O'Brien.
"It combines optimal design and value for money, and provides a sound basis for moving forward to design and planning for this vital new facility.”