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Harris announces plans for single body to run 'secular' new National Children's Hospital

The new hospital, approved for construction in April, will integrate the services of the three children’s hospitals in Dublin.

Harris today announced plans for a single body to run the National Children's Hospital
Harris today announced plans for a single body to run the National Children's Hospital
Image: Sam Boal

THE MINISTER FOR Health has stated that the new National Children’s Hospital will be secular, with plans for a single body to run the hospital published today.

The new body will take over the services of Dublin’s existing three children’s hospitals, integrate the staff and services of these hospitals and run the new hospital, which is currently being built on the campus of St James’s Hospital and due to open around 2021.

Launching the publication of the the Children’s Health Bill 2017, Minister for Health Simon Harris said that he hoped this body would be in place next year.

It would then begin to plan the transition of staff and services from Dublin’s existing hospitals to the outpatient and urgent care centres, due to open several years ahead of the new children’s hospital.

This new hospital is an extraordinary opportunity to transform paediatric services for children in Ireland by bringing together patients and staff from across the three existing children’s hospitals into a single organisation, which will improve the experience and outcomes for children and their families.”

The body’s board will have 12 members, all appointed by the minister.

The chairs of Dublin’s three children’s hospitals – Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, Temple Street Children’s University Hospital and Tallaght Hospital  - welcomed the development in a statement today.

We are delighted that the legislation to create this new body is being progressed. While bringing three hospitals together is a complex challenge, it is an extraordinary opportunity to enhance local paediatric services in Dublin as well as enhancing highly specialist paediatric services nationally.

The construction of the new hospital was approved by the government in April after a long controversy over its location. In February, over 50 TDs attended a presentation that severely criticised the government’s decision to place the hospital at the St James’s site.

Harris today also reaffirmed his commitment to introducing free GP care to all children under 12, the roll out of which has been delayed indefinitely.

While children under the age of six currently get free care, Harris stated that it was a “priority” for him and the government to extend this, and that he would also explore the possibility of introducing free means-tested care to those older.

Read: Harris wants to bring in opt-out organ donation system next year >

Read: ‘That is not the way a health service works’: Harris extremely concerned if patients seeking help are turned away >

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