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St James's Hospital

The new national children's hospital is go... but not everyone is happy about it

Construction is set to begin this summer. The decision has been described as “a giant step forward for children’s healthcare in ireland”.

PLANNING PERMISSION for a new National Children / Dept of Health

Updated 13.53

THIS MORNING IT was announced that planning permission has been granted for the new children’s hospital on the site of St James’s hospital in Dublin.

The news comes at the end of a years-long dispute over where the hospital should be built, and as you might expect not all the reaction to the announcement has been positive.

Founder of the Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation Jonathan Irwin described himself as being “sad and disappointed” at the news.

“I really thought that common  sense would prevail having attended and made our case against this location at the oral hearings,” he said.

We’ve expressed our concerns and we have urged all those concerned to switch the location to Connolly, but to no avail.

Irwin said that he has no vested interest in Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown other than that “it would be better for children”.

He made two further points regarding the announcement: that it is “disingenuous” of the project team to speak about “the Coombe Hospital as if it is part of the plan as it’s not”, and that he does not accept the figures being mentioned today as being the “true cost of the hospital”.

Meanwhile, lobby group Connolly for Kids Hospital says this morning’s announcement is “wrong”.

“The organisation believes that the government was wrong to have presented the St James’s site for consideration and that it remains the responsibility of the new government to the children of Ireland of this and future generations to change the site,” the group said in a statement.

Connolly for Kids Hospital continues to call urgently on the government to change its decision, to respect the will of the people of Ireland and to change the site to the Connolly campus.

Planning granted

An Bórd Pleanála this morning officially approved the €650 million development, with construction on the St James’s site expected to begin this summer.

The finished complex is expected to be completed by 2019, and to become fully operational by the following year.

For many years the fog of controversy hung over the prospective hospital with regards to what site it should be based upon.

Previously it was proposed to build the hospital on the Mater Hospital site in the north of the city, however this plan collapsed, while as mentioned above Connolly Hospital was also mooted as an option.

The new building will stand four-storeys high when completed – rising to seven storeys at its highest point above ground – and will have 384 in-patient beds, an oval pavilion set in a therapeutic rooftop garden for children, as well as accommodation for parents.

There are to be over 1,000 car park spaces, with over 600 reserved for visitors and patients.

“Watershed day”

Much of the reaction to this morning’s announcement has been positive however.

Health minister Leo Varadkar has described the granting of permission as “fantastic news for all the children of Ireland”.

It will produce a state of the art hospital of which everyone can be proud.

Outgoing children’s minister James Reilly meanwhile described the announcement as “a great day for all the children of Ireland.

“It means that we can look forward to world class treatment for our children in a world class environment,” he said.

“We welcome today’s announcement and look forward to continuing to work with the Children’s Hospital Group and with the NPHDB to ensure that the design and location of the hospital best meets the needs of children and adolescents,” Lorcan Birthistle, CEO of St. James’s, said.

We are excited at the opportunity this decision presents to further develop world class services on our campus and we look forward to the development of The Coombe Hospital maternity and women’s health services on campus in the future.

Eilish Hardiman, CEO of the Children’s Hospital Group, meanwhile said this morning that the news represents “truly a watershed day for children, young people and their families.”

Today’s decision will positively transform how paediatric services are delivered for children and young people here in Ireland. These buildings are a significant catalyst for how the new national model of care will be delivered. We are now firmly on our way to making this long awaited children’s hospital a reality.
Anyone who deals with paediatric services in Ireland – as a patient, a parent or as a member of staff – fully understands how badly this new facility is needed.
Originally published 9.10am

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