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New children's hospital will be the length of Grafton Street and as big as Dundrum Shopping Centre

The new children’s hospital will cost over €1 billion and will open in 2021.

Minister for Health Simon Harris with L-R Daryl Kennedy Kiely (6) ,Devin Kennedy Kiely (13),Anthony Iannucci (10) and Ella Kennedy Kiely (9)
Minister for Health Simon Harris with L-R Daryl Kennedy Kiely (6) ,Devin Kennedy Kiely (13),Anthony Iannucci (10) and Ella Kennedy Kiely (9)
Image: Julien Behal

THE CONSTRUCTION OF the new children’s hospital on the St James’ site is to begin “within a matter of weeks” according to the Minister of Health Simon Harris.

The new hospital, which was signed off by the minister at today’s Cabinet meeting, will be open by 2021.

The building will have 380 single rooms, all with en-suite bathrooms and a parent’s bed. There will be 93 daycare beds, 22 operating theatres (an increase of 40% on theatre capacity at present) and 122 consulting rooms.

The accommodation includes inpatient rooms for neonatology intensive care, as well as 20 child and adolescent mental health beds for patients with eating disorders and acute mental health services for children.

In addition, there will be a hospital school, a third level research facility, and specialist therapy and play facilities for children.

Works to begin on site 

The hospital site will have four acres of green space – including a ‘rainbow garden’ which is a central feature of the design, and a ‘meadow garden’.

Harris said he was “delighted” and “proud” to make the final announcement today that works can now begin on the site.

NO FEE MIN HARRIS NEW CHILDRENS HOSPITAL JB1 Pictured at an announcement marking the investment in the state-of-the-art new children’s hospital project was Minister for Health Simon Harris meeting Anthony Iannucci (10) a Temple St Childrens Hospital patient . Source: Julien Behal

He said the “sheer scale” of the development cannot be underestimated.

As big as Dundrum Shopping Centre 

“We are building a hospital that will be the length of Grafton Street and the size of Dundrum Shopping Centre – this is great day for the health service,” said Harris, who has been under pressure this week due to the details surrounding the ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital.

This is an issue that has been debated in this country for a long number of years. This is an issue that government comes and government goes and people have constantly wondered when we are going to get on with building the national children’s hospital, and providing facilities for children and their families that they so badly need and deserve in this country.

He said the new hospital, which will amalgamate services at Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght hospitals, will “revolutionise” how children’s healthcare is delivered in Ireland.

However, there have been criticisms of the hospital’s site by parent groups, such as Connolly for Kids, who believe a more suitable greenfield site can be found on the outskirts of the city along the M50.

The group argues that many parents and children who must avail of the services are coming from all around the country, and maintain the St James’ site is needlessly dragging them into the busy city centre.

river (6) Plan for the new children's hospital

When asked about the criticisms, the minister said the St James’ site is the most suitable based on medical reasons.

‘Children can wait no longer’ 

Harris said the children of Ireland can’t wait any longer for the new hospital.

“We have to get on and build this,” he said.

Being in politics and being in government is about making decisions. You have to get to the point after consulting and debating, after the Oireachtas voting on it, after the previous government deciding on the location, after many, many people having an opinion on the site – you get to the point where you’ve got to press go. We cannot wait any longer to build this hospital.

The new children’s hospital (whose official name is still under wraps) will cost over €1.07 billion to build.

The cost has been a contentious issue, but the minister today denied that the budget had spiralled out of control.

download (24) Green areas planned for the new hospital.

Underestimating the cost 

“Yes, we are spending more on this than originally envisaged. The original was about €650m in 2014, that has evolved over time,” he said.

“We are doing an awful lot more than was estimated in that figure – we did not include the hospital school, the third level research centre, the retail and the parking. It didn’t include the equipping and it certainly didn’t include making this Ireland’s first digital hospital,” he said.

The increase in cost is also being blamed on construction inflation, which officials claim has risen from 3% in 2014 to 9%.

The market costs of the tenders also came in €40 million higher than forecast.

Childrens Hospital Source: Sam Boal

The cost breakdown 

The current cost for the hospital comes in at €983 million in capital costs and €88 million for ICT costs in the hospital.

More than €1.004 billion is to come from Exchequer funding, while €67 million will come from commercial and philanthropic funding.

The hospital group tasked with delivering the project denied that it will be the most expensive hospital in Europe, stating that the costs have been benchmarked against other hospitals built in Europe, the US and the Middle East.

Though the names of the hospitals used in the benchmarking process were not provided for commercial reasons, the project designers and managers said the new children’s hospital comes in under the average cost of other hospitals around the world.

NO FEE MIN HARRIS NEW CHILDRENS HOSPITAL JB7 Minister for Health Simon Harris,Eilish Hardiman Chief Executive Children's Hospital Group and John Pollock Project Director NPHDB . Source: Julien Behal

The cost of the St James’ site children’s hospital costs €4,200 per square metre, while it costs an average of €4,700 in the US and €5,000 in the Middle East.

While the hospital group said it did not believe the cost per bed was an accurate reflection of value for money, it said the average cost in the hospital stands at just over €1 million per bed.

Is there anything not included in the cost?

Some of the funding for operational costs, such as training of staff, as well as some of the HSE ICT needed, is not included in the final figure.

The cost of staffing the hospital is also not included.

An additional 600 staff will be needed for the day-to day running of the children’s hospital.

Will this hospital be delivered on budget? Harris said it has to be.

“I expect, and the government expects, for this to come in on budget and on time,” said Harris.

Read: Children’s hospital costs like a ‘runaway train’ as they rocket to €1bn>

Read: Rural TDs say sick children will be left stranded in Dublin traffic if new children’s hospital goes ahead>

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