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File photo of construction at the St James' site. Leah Farrell/
progress update

Construction has started on the building frame of the National Children's Hospital

The hospital board will appear before an Oireachtas committee today.

CONSTRUCTION HAS STARTED on the building frame of the new National Children’s Hospital, with the frame now visible above ground level in places, as work on the controversial project at the St James’s site in Dublin continues. 

Mechanical and electrical installation work has also started in the basement of the hospital, which has been the subject of political controversy after reports that costs of construction could run to €2 billion. 

The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) will appear today before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health.

A figure of €983 million for the development was approved by government in 2017, but that rose by €500 million in the space of a year and the final costs are projected to exceed that again. 

A report by accounting firm PWC was commissioned by government (at a cost of €500,000) which found that the increases were mostly down to an underestimation of what the real cost of the project would be. 

The project director and the chairperson of the board of the National Children’s Hospital both stepped down from their roles earlier this year, as did other members of the board.

Committee appearance 

Fred Barry – who took over as chair of the board – will update committee on the progress of the hospital project and other developments. 

“The Committee will be very aware that the construction costs for these works, as finally agreed with the Main Contractor BAM, are considerably higher than the previously estimated costs,” Barry will tell the committee. 

Notwithstanding the difficulties in reaching agreement with BAM, the view of the Development Board was that it was better to proceed with BAM rather than stop the project and re-tender the main construction work.

Barry will defend the board’s decision to proceed with BAM, saying that costs would be higher and the project would be delayed if they chose to re-tender for the remainder of the project. 

In relation to the work itself, “construction focus for the last year or so has been on heavy civil works excavating the site, pile driving, and so on – and the building frame is now under construction”, the committee will be told. 

“This frame can be seen above ground level in places, and as it rises it will give a real sense of the scale of the works. And, the mechanical and electrical installation work has started in the basement,” Barry will say.


Another significant development is that the board have decided to procure equipment for the hospital through “traditional procurement means” rather than through a Managed Equipment Service.

“This decision is timely in that it allows competitive tendering, procurement and delivery of this equipment in line with the overall programme,” Barry will tell the committee. 

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