“It will be the single biggest capital project in the history of Irish healthcare. The outgoing Government approved funding for the project and included it in the Capital Plan 2016-21. Enabling works will begin this summer,” he said.
“The children’s hospitals at Temple Street, Crumlin and Tallaght have always provided superb care to children, but they’re operating within restricted and outdated buildings. The new building at St James’s will allow doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals to do what they do best in a purpose-built facility.
“The decision also means that work can start on two satellite centres at Connolly Hospital and at Tallaght, providing services right across greater Dublin. These will open in 2018. And the new Children’s Hospital will support regional hospitals across Ireland to ensure that services are provided as close to home as possible. Permission has also been granted for the research centre.”
He added that building a hospital “of this size” on the St James’s campus will “inevitably” mean disruption but the St James’s Board has “embraced this project fully”. Minister Varadkar said co-location of these two leading hospitals will result in a campus of clinical, educational and research excellence that can attract “the best and brightest” across all disciplines.
“In the future, the development of a new Coombe Hospital on the campus will bring further benefits, with children and young people, mothers and babies all benefiting from the tri-location of adult, maternity and paediatric services.”
Commenting this morning, Ms Eilísh Hardiman, CEO of the Children’s Hospital Group, said: “Anyone who deals with paediatric services in Ireland – as a patient, a parent or as a member of staff – fully understands how badly this new facility is needed. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board and the design teams BDP and O’Connell Mahon, and all that contributed to getting us to this milestone.”
The news has also been welcomed by the Faculty of Paediatrics, RCPI. Dean of the Faculty Dr Raymond Barry said the modern facilities that will be available at the new hospital will “radically improve” the experience of children and families who must attend for management of childhood illnesses.
An Bord Pleanála has attached a number of conditions to its decision, including the requirement to submit a Car Park Management Plan for the St James’s Hospital Campus to Dublin City Council, before the commencement of development. This plan must incorporate measures to ensure that the 675 car parking spaces in the proposed National Children’s Hospital, that are stated in the submitted documentation to be reserved for use by patients and visitors, cannot be used by staff during the period 7am to 7pm, Monday to Saturday.
In a Facebook post this morning, the campaigning group Connolly for Kids Hospital said there was “immense heartache for our parents and supporters across the country this morning with the news that planning permission was granted at St James’s. However, our resolve holds firm.”
The group has argued that the site of Connolly Hospital is a better location for the National Children’s Hospital, given its space and access advantages. The group has pointed out that the Rotunda Hospital is due to move to the site of Connolly under government policy.