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National Children's Hospital will cost more than €1.43 billion by 2024 completion date

The final cost may not be known until years after construction ends due to legal claims.

Work on the roof garden of the new National Children's Hospital
Work on the roof garden of the new National Children's Hospital
Image: Lauren Boland/The Journal

Updated Oct 5th 2022, 1:20 PM

THE CHIEF OFFICER of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB), David Gunning, told TDs and senators this morning that the total cost of the project may not be known for years after construction ends due to outstanding legal claims.

Over €1.1 billion has been spent so far on the construction of the National Children’s Hospital, and Gunning did not divulge an estimated total cost, except to say it will be more than the €1.43 billion approved by the Government in 2018.

Gunning appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health this morning to discuss the ongoing construction of the new hospital, which was started in 2016.

He told members of the committee that progress on the hospital has “advanced significantly” since July 2021, when the NPHDB last appeared before the committee.

Construction of the project is due to be completed by the end of March 2024.

NCH1 An aerial view of the National Children's Hospital

The overall cost of the project has risen from an estimated €800 million in 2014, to983 million in 2017, to €1.4 billion as of December 2019.

The original completion date in the tender document was August 2022.

Asked by Sinn Fein TD David Cullinane whether the total cost is likely to exceed €1.43 billion, Gunning replied: “Yes, it will be, it will be exceeded.

“As we look at the programme and the 17-month extension, the additional costs will bring us beyond that particular amount.”

He told TDs and senators that construction had “significantly advanced” since July and it is now about 78% completed.

“The advanced progress means that the layout of the hospital is clear and visible to all those who walk through the various departments that are reaching completion stage,” he said.

The committee heard the most advanced areas within the building have floors, walls, ceilings and joinery installed.

“The intensive care pendants and bathroom fittings are being installed, as are the sliding doors,” Gunning said.

In a visit to the site earlier this year, The Journal reported that the structure has reached its final height, that 95% of the concrete had been poured and that many of the wards are walkable and not far from equipment and furniture being installed.

In his opening statement, Gunning also raised the impact of challenges faced by the construction sector due to Brexit, Covid-19 and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“It is widely acknowledged that the global construction sector continues to face challenges related to supply of market essentials due to widespread turbulence in the industry caused by Brexit, Covid, and the War in Ukraine,” Gunning said.

“These issues have led to production disruption, import delays and constraints, inventory depletion resulting in shortages in the market and, more recently, escalating energy and transport costs.

“These are global challenges and are not unique to the construction sector but are having – and will continue to have impacts on the project.”

NCH3 An inpatient bedroom being fitted out

According to Gunning, the NPHDB are seeking “mitigation strategies” from the construction contractor BAM to “ensure that the impact on cost and timeline as a result of the combination of these factors is minimised as much as possible”.

In 2019, the final cost was estimated to be €1.73 billion, while one opposition TD said he believed it was “highly unlikely” that the total cost would be less than €2 billion.

It comes as consumer inflation is currently running at 8%, according to revised estimates from the Central Bank that were published this morning.

While inflation was recognised as being outside of the approved Government investment at the outset, other costs outside of the investment have also arisen, including the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit.

However, the NPHDB cannot provide a definitive update on cost due to the impact it may have on the board’s commercial engagements.

With additional reporting from PA

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