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Dublin: 13 °C Saturday 23 February, 2019
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Rural TDs say sick children will be left stranded in Dublin traffic if new children's hospital goes ahead

The cost of the new children’s hospital is expected to exceed €1 billion.

SICK CHILDREN WILL be left languishing in ambulances in Dublin traffic if the new children’s hospital is built on the St James’s site, according to a number of rural TDs.

The debate over whether the new hospital should be built on the inner city site or on a green field site near the M50 has been rumbling on for months - with campaigners suggesting the campus of Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown as a more suitable site.

A motion from the Rural Independent Group is calling for the suspension of the proposed National Children’s Hospital project due to the escalating costs.

It will be debated this afternoon in the Dáil, where parents of sick children will also be in attendance.

Escalating costs

Speaking ahead of the debate, Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath said the cost has almost trebled from the original 2012 estimate of €404 million quoted by St James’s for the delivery of the hospital.

Independent TD Michael Harty said the jump in costs could mean the new hospital will be the most expensive hospital ever built in the world.

It’s understood the cost of the new hospital could reach over a billion Euro.

Health Minister Simon Harris has said one of the reasons for the rise is the increase in construction costs since the project was put out to tender.

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In November of last year, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Health Minister Simon Harris and Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Donohoe would be bringing a memo to Cabinet on the costs of the hospital.

“The issues raised in general about the range and costs will be central to that memo. Specifically, there will be a focus on the value-for-money process involved,” said the Taoiseach.

It’s understood that the memo is due to be delivered shortly.

McGrath claims the site of the hospital will lead to extreme levels of congestion and will increase the risks of adverse medical outcomes.

The Tipperary TD said Dublin traffic is worse than ever and said it will make it difficult for anyone, including those travelling from the country, to access the hospital.

Sick children

“Countless families are saying it is not the right site… Many travelling here this evening are totally aghast that this nonsense is going ahead,” he added.

He said he has heard many stories about “sick mothers screaming in the back [of ambulances], saying ‘how long more are we stuck’ and they’re just stationary”.

With planning permission for the new hospital granted last April, today’s motion is seen as a last-ditch effort to halt the project.

However, McGrath admits that he is not confident the project will be stopped, but said the government needs to be transparent about the costs.

I am not confident, but I am confident the truth will be outed… the sick children should be listened to. The government have an opportunity today to explain the runaway train costs.

He said the concerned families just want their voices to be heard.

Why are sick people travelling here today and their parents? They are not doing it for the fun or for any political reason.

The plans for the children’s hospital outline that the four-storey building will rise to seven storeys at its highest point above ground, and will have 384 in-patient beds, an oval pavilion set in a therapeutic rooftop garden for children, as well as accommodation for parents.

There will be 675 underground parking spaces dedicated for use by families only, and 31 emergency spaces parking at surface level. This is the three times the parking currently available for use by families at the three Dublin children’s hospital combined.

Read: Children’s hospital costs like a ‘runaway train’ as they rocket to €1bn>

 Read: ‘We expected nothing more from the Blueshirts’: Hundreds of bus drivers march through Dublin>

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