Minister Harris gets green light for €1bn new children’s hospital

-   Simon Harris TD

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, today announced that the Government has approved the investment required to enable the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board to award the construction contracts for the building of the main children’s hospital on the St James’s Hospital campus and the two Paediatric Outpatients and Urgent Care Centres on the Tallaght and Connolly Hospitals campuses. This decision means that the project can proceed without delay. Construction of the new children’s hospital will commence within weeks.

At the site of the new children’s hospital, Minister Harris said: “Today is a huge step forward for the children’s hospital project, ending years of doubt as to whether it would ever be built. Today, there is no more doubt. This hospital will be built. The new state of the art children’s hospital, and the two Paediatric Outpatient and Urgent Care Centres, will provide a fitting place where we can provide our children with the best modern clinical care.

“Our children have waited a long time for this new hospital but there is light at the end of the tunnel now. Site clearance work, which began last year, is almost complete and so we’ll start building works in the next few weeks. I anticipate that the new hospital, which will serve all of the children of all Ireland, will open in 2021, with the two Outpatient and Urgent Care Centres at Tallaght and Connolly opening well in advance at the end 2018 and the first quarter of 2019”.

The two Paediatric Outpatient and Urgent Care Centres at Tallaght and Connolly Hospitals will provide consultant-led urgent care, with observation beds, diagnostics and secondary outpatient services including rapid access general paediatric clinics, developmental paediatrics and multidisciplinary care for children with chronic stable conditions.

The establishment of the new children’s hospital provides a unique opportunity to establish a new model of care that will optimise how paediatric services are provided in Ireland. The hospital will provide tertiary and quaternary paediatric services for the children of Ireland, including on an all-island basis, where agreed between the Department of Health and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland.

Integration of the three existing paediatric hospitals, the opening of the OPD and Urgent Care Centres and the transfer of services to the new hospital facilities represent a highly complex project in its own right. The major programme of work of clinical integration, people and change management and commissioning required to achieve a successful transition to the new facilities is already underway. The Minister will bring the Heads of a Bill to Government next month, to establish a single entity to integrate the services currently provided by the three hospitals, prepare for the transition to the new facilities and ultimately to run the children’s hospital and OPD and Urgent Care Centres when they open.

The St James’s campus will also be home to the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital thus achieving tri-location of adult, paediatric and maternity services. A site for the proposed maternity hospital is identified in the Site Master Plan for the St James’s campus, and the new children’s hospital design has incorporated the required operational links with both maternity and adult hospitals.

While the construction of the new maternity hospital on the campus will not commence until the new children’s hospital is completed, progress will be made on the work required to advance the new maternity hospital design, which must be done before a planning application is prepared.

Minister Harris thanked all those who have worked long and hard on this project and whose commitment has been unwavering. In particular he thanked Tom Costello, Chair of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, Dr Jim Browne, Chair of the Children’s Hospital Group Board, John Pollock, Project Director, Eilish Hardiman, Children’s Hospital Group CEO, their teams and the Board and staff of the three children’s hospitals.

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