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Dublin: 6 °C Tuesday 2 June, 2020

Reilly in talks to make Children's Hospital an all-island facility

Taking patients from Northern Ireland could help to lower the costs of building the facility at St James’s.

Northern Ireland's health minister Edwin Poots: James Reilly has been in contact with his Northern counterpart about making the new children's hospital an all-island facility.
Northern Ireland's health minister Edwin Poots: James Reilly has been in contact with his Northern counterpart about making the new children's hospital an all-island facility.
Image: Paul Faith/PA Archive

HEALTH MINISTER James Reilly has revealed he is in talks with his Northern Irish counterpart to have the forthcoming National Children’s Hospital operate on an all-island basis.

In response to written Dáil questions from FG backbencher Joe McHugh, Reilly said he had been in contact with the DUP’s Edwin Poots about opening access to patients from the North.

Representatives from the HSE and it’s counterpart, Northern Ireland Commissioning Services, have been taking part in the talks to determine whether opening the hospital to patients from Northern Ireland would work as the ‘optimum model’.

Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin, which already has links to facilities in Belfast and takes Northern patients for congenital cardiac surgery, has also been involved.

Reilly said he would be including representatives from the North in the governing bodies to oversee both the construction of the hospital, which is due to be finished by late 2017, and its operation.

“I am very much committed to working together with my Northern colleagues on issues of common concern and benefit,” Reilly wrote. “This is of particular relevance in the current time when both jurisdictions are implementing change and pushing forward health reform.

“Terms of Reference for engagement between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland on acute hospital issues are expected to be agreed shortly,” he added,

Derry radiotherapy unit could be used as inspiration

On a suggestion from McHugh, Reilly said he would examine how the funding model for a radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin hospital in Derry – which is being one-third funded by the Republic – could be used as a working basis to be applied to the Children’s Hospital.

While agreeing to open the hospital to patients from Northern Ireland would increase the workload for the hospital, the decision would also help to share the financial burden of building the hospital – set to be in the region of €500 million, though final figures have not yet been agreed.

The Irish government is currently due to provide €400 million for the project, with the rest to be raised through philanthropy and the auction of the licence to run the National Lottery.

Legislation allowing this auction, and creating a new lottery regulator to ensure that lottery funds are still distributed to good causes, began its passage through the Oireachtas this week.

The decision to move the hospital to the site of St James’s Hospital in Kilmainham, after planning permission for the original site at the Mater was refused, meant about €26 million in development costs had been lost.

McHugh said it would make sense “for the two jurisdictions to pool resources to deliver the best possible services to patients from both sides of the border”.

Quick poll: Should the National Children’s Hospital be made an all-island facility?

Poll Results:

No (488)
Yes (343)
I don't know (108)

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

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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