St James’s Hospital has been confirmed as the location for the new National Children’s Hospital. Minister for Health James Reilly made the announcement this afternoon as a press conference.
As a result, a compromise proposal has emerged to expand the St James’s campus so that it envelopes the larger site adjacent to the Coombe and to build the children’s hospital on these lands. This would remove the need to build a new maternity hospital. St James’s is about 600m from the Coombe.
The decision, will pave the way for the construction of a hospital that will be of benefit to many future generations of Irish children. The decision also ends a period of uncertainty around the project in the wake of the rejection by An Bord Pleanála of plans to develop the hospital on the site of the Mater Hospital in Dublin. Speaking at the announcement of the decision at a press conference in Government Buildings, Minister Reilly said “there is no building project to which the Government attaches a greater importance.
A nation can be judged on the treatment of its children. This Government regards the building of the New Children’s Hospital as a key priority and no effort will be spared in expediting its completion”. Minister Fitzgerald echoed those comments saying “the greatest duty of Government is the care of citizens. Nowhere is that more true than in the case of sick children. We have taken the greatest care to make the right decision today – a decision that gives the greatest confidence of delivering this much needed hospital”.
Minister of State Alex White stressed the importance of clinical excellence in reaching the decision: “A building alone has no value without the health professionals to ensure the highest quality of care. This decision by Government will ensure the strongest possible concentration of clinical excellence being brought to bear on the treatment of sick children.” The decision to choose the St James’s site from among the range of options presented in the Dolphin report ensures that the planned co-location with an adult hospital and, ultimately, tri-location with a maternity hospital, will be delivered. In identifying the new site, the Government has carefully considered the report of the Dolphin Group which was established last March to consider the issues along with detailed supplementary information on cost, time and planning which was subsequently sought from members of the Group with the relevant technical expertise. The decision has been led by clinical considerations.
It is essential that the new children’s hospital can deliver best clinical outcomes for our children. Co-location with St James’s and, ultimately, tri-location with a maternity hospital on the St James’s campus, will the Government believes provide the excellence in clinical care that our children deserve. The Government also considered the very significant issues of planning, cost, time and access. Based on the detailed information available from the Dolphin process, it is confident that the hospital can be and will be built as quickly as possible on the St James’s site. The three existing children’s hospitals have been working closely together over recent years in readiness for the transition to a single hospital. In tandem with today’s decision, the Minister has decided that the three hospitals should become a single Hospital Group as soon as possible, with a single governance structure, a single budget and a single voice for children’s healthcare.
The development of the new national children’s hospital will be the biggest capital project during the lifetime of the current Government.