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National Children's Hospital to get two 'satellite' units - nearer to the M50

The plan for the main hospital in Dublin 8 has been criticised — with access, parking and traffic among the primary concerns.

Image: Photocall Ireland

Updated at 5.53pm

MINISTER FOR HEALTH James Reilly has announced that two smaller units for children are to be constructed in advance of the opening of the main National Children’s Hospital at St James’s in Dublin 8.

The new centres will be based closer to the M50 – at Tallaght Hospital on the southside of Dublin and Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown on the northside.

According to the Department of Health:

The satellite centres are being developed in order to enhance access to emergency/urgent care facilities for children in the Greater Dublin Area.

As well as urgent care, each centre will also provide secondary acute outpatient services, including rapid access general paediatric clinics.

The choice of St James’s as the site for the children’s facility has been criticised by some – with concerns raised in particular over lack of access, parking, and traffic problems in the area.

Jonathan Irwin of children’s charity the Jack and Jill foundation wrote last week that the Dublin 8 location failed almost every requirement set out in the Government-commissioned review of proposed sites for the project, the ‘Dolphin Report’.

Today’s announcement aims to address the access issue directly. According the Department:

This configuration improves geographic access to urgent care for a significant number in the Greater Dublin Area, supports primary and community care paediatrics and significantly reduces Emergency Department and outpatient attendance on the main site.

It’s anticipated the majority of patients attending the smaller units will be treated and discharged within the centre. Critically ill children will be stabilised at the centres before being transferred to the main site.

The units will be open between 7.30am and 10pm, and it’s projected they’ll deal with 50,000 patients annually.

The Department’s statement continues:

Similar models elsewhere show around 2 per cent transfer to the main site (in this model it may be 5-8 per cent, depending on opening hours as children who arrive close to closing time and require ongoing observation/care may need to be transferred).

According to Minister Reilly:

“For children in the Greater Dublin Area, the development of satellite centres ensures they have the best possible access to urgent care and outpatient services.

“At the same time, in deciding what services are to be provided in these centres, we have been careful to ensure that we can still develop specialist outreach from the main hospital to paediatric units around the country, for children throughout Ireland.”

It’s planned the smaller centres will be completed in mid-2016. Reilly has said he expects the main hospital to open in early 2018.

Today’s decision follows consultation between the Department and the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, the Children’s Hospital Group and HSE experts.

Significant

Tallaght Hospital described the new children’s hospital project as “the most significant investment in healthcare services for the children of Ireland in the history of the State”.

The Tallaght standalone facility will incorporate paediatric emergency and urgent care services with a six-bed observation facility, as well as out-patient services and rapid access for GPs to paediatric care and diagnostics.

It is estimated that it will cater for around 25,000 attendances each year, “and will provide treatment for the vast majority of these children and young people without the child being admitted to an in-patient bed”.

First posted at 3.50pm.

Read: Children’s Hospital to be built on St James’s site by end of 2017, early 2018

Read: Plans for nine storey children’s hospital on St. James’s site revealed

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