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National Children's Hospital Project 'highly unlikely’ to come in under €2 billion

The Secretary General of the HSE is unable to confirm that the cost will be below €2 billion

Image: Oireachtas.ie

THE PUBLIC ACCOUNTS Committee is meeting today to discuss the National Children’s Hospital Development Board’s 2017 financial statements, with some TDs questioning whether the project’s final cost will exceed €2 billion. 

Labour TD Alan Kelly today asked Secretary General of the Department of Health, Jim Breslin, whether he was “confident that this project will definitely conclude and be opened” for less than €2 billion, and whether he could “guarantee it”.

Earlier this month, the Health Committee hearing on the cost overruns at the hospital was told that the build will cost €1.433 billion – €450 million more than the figure of €983 million approved by government in 2017.

The figure has since gone up to €1.7 billion. 

“I don’t think it’s going to come in under €2 billion,” said Kelly, adding that it would “highly unlikely” because of associated costs.

No confirmation

Breslin was unable to confirm that the project would come in under €2 billion. He said that an internal projected costs study is underway, concurrently with the report being carried out by Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) into what the final cost will be.

Kelly has questioned why the government has “now commissioned their own internal study”, and questioned whether it “should just let PwC get on with the job”.

It’s new info to people that, not alone do we have a project that’s €1,433,000,000. Now, there’s a process in place to see where the figure will land, at same time as €450,000 investigation to find out how we got here in the first place.

“It’s mind-boggling that we couldn’t guarantee that it was coming in under €983 million… four months later, we can’t guarantee to taxpayers that it will come under €2 billion,” Kelly said. 

The information “was known” that there would be additional costs, Breslin confirmed at the meeting.

Kelly has said that it’s “extremely worrying” that Breslin, a top HSE official, “was unable to confirm (…) that projected costs for the National Children’s Hospital won’t exceed €2 billion.”

Breslin said: 

The area that I’m most interested in is how the €983m went to the €1.433 billion. In my estimation, a key explanatory factor is the gap between the preliminary design and the final design.”

At the committee meeting, chairperson and Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming asked for a breakdown of the €1.7 billion figure attached to the project currently. After the break, he then read out the figures which he had received

This included €4.5 million for decanting, €5.8 million for Aspergillus prevention, €550 million for the main contractor, BAM, €87.9 million for equipment, €66 million for running the hospital’s board, and its legal fees. This contributes to the €1.433 billion. 

Outside of that, €18 million will be required for a Children’s Innovation and Research Centre, and €97 million for IT services, which is not funded by the Exchequer, but by planned-for philanthropic contributions.  

 

 

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