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Leah Farrell
new children's hospital

'Not in interest of the State' to share estimates of Children's Hospital final cost

The Minister said that rising costs for the hospital will not impact other healthcare facility projects, despite the HSE warning that it will.

HEALTH MINISTER STEPHEN Donnelly has said that it is “not in the interest” of the State to share estimated figures for the final cost of the New Children’s Hospital while negotiations are ongoing. 

The Minister said that it is clear that the new hospital will ultimately cost in excess of the already revised budget of €1.4bn, “we have all known that for some time” he added. 

The Government has said that the hospital will open at the end of 2024 at the very earliest. It is likely that an opening date in 2025 is now being aimed for. 

Donnelly was responding to claims that Robert Watt, the Secretary General for the Department of Health, and the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPDB) know the estimated final cost of the project, but are not making the information public. 

The Minister said that “very large sums of money” are at stake in the ongoing negotiations between the NPDB and the contractor. 

He further said that the board is doing the best it can to keep costs down, but added that the contractor may have “legitimate claims” when it comes to price hikes. 

“Most importantly, we want to have this hospital handed over to Children’s Health Ireland next year as agreed,” Donnelly said. 

He also said that the rise in costs for the hospital will not impact on other projects being funded through the State’s capital programme – which include repairs at Wexford University Hospital, additional critical care beds at Cork University Hospital, works on the new National Maternity Hospital and more. 

His assertion contradicts a warning the HSE that fluctuations in expenditure will have a “significant impact” on the remainder of the capital programme, and the capital plan for 2023. 

Today the Health Service Executive said the estimated spend on the project this year will be €324 million. 

However it noted that expenditure on the hospital will be “reprofiled”. 

David Cullinane, Sinn Fein’s spokesperson on Health, said that it is “frustrating” that Oireachtas committees are not being updated on estimates for the final cost of the hospital, leaving representatives unable to answer questions from the public. 

“As I stand here today I cannot tell you what the overall cost will be, and I cannot tell you with any certainty what the opening date will be”. 

He said that ongoing delays and cost revisions when it comes to the children’s hospital reveals “the dysfunction at the heart of Government”. 

“Clear commitments were made by the Taoiseach, by previous Health Ministers, in relation to time frames and costs which were not borne out.”

“The failures in this process are failures of Government,” he added. 

Cullinane added that it is “totally unacceptable” that other healthcare projects may be impacted by further cost revisions. 

“No facility should pay the price for the fact that the Government has gotten this so badly wrong,” he added. 

Bam building, the contractor for the children’s hospital, has said that work on the project is “progressing well” and is over 75% complete, with the fit-out of buildings underway. 

This includes floors, stations and medical equipment. 

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