Reilly gets planning process for children's hospital moving again

Progress on the new national children's hospital has been stalled since the beginning of 2011 but an independent review to look into the cost and location of the hospital, announced last week, should get things moving again. By Sara Burke.


On 12 May 2011, news broke of the resignation of Ailish Hardiman, the CEO of the children’s hospital planning board. The same day Minister for Health James Reilly published information on the independent review to be carried out on the cost and location of the hospital. So whither the children’s hospital from here?  Minister Reilly has promised this review since taking up the post of Minister of Health. Eight weeks into the job he has announced this high-powered independent review is to be completed in six weeks (2 weeks of a financial review and 4 weeks of a clinical review).


The terms of reference for the financial analysis will be:  To examine and independently verify the estimated cost differentials identified in relation to building, equipping and running the proposed National Paediatric Hospital (a) if constructed on the site  currently proposed and (b) if constructed to the same specification on notional alternative sites. The clinical review will then be carried out with the following terms of reference: To examine whether the potential clinical benefits, if any, of locating a children’s hospital beside the adult hospital on the Mater site outweigh: (i) Any cost differential; and (ii) Any design issues, including access to the hospital.

The financial analysis is being done by John Cooper, Chair of UK Architects for Health, nominated by the European Health Property Network. They will be paid €70,000 plus VAT.  The clinical review is being carried out by four high powered children’s hospital CEOs from Boston, Colorado, Brisbane and Great Ormond St. They are doing their work pro bono, except for travel expenses.

The terms of reference mention that the Mater site will be compared to ‘notional’ sites but according to a spokesperson from the Dept of Health these are more conceptual not specific, that is, they will look at a greenfield site on the M50; one beside an adult hospital, a maternity hospital, a stand alone etc.

In terms of the timetable for when the actual new children’s hospital will be built, if the review comes in in support of the Mater site then we’ve lost about six months as they were ready to go to planning in January/February of this year. This process was put back by the election and this promised review. The process started in 2007; originally the hospital was meant to be built by 2013; now 2015/ 6 is a likely completion date if the hospital does indeed go ahead on the Mater site. But if a new site is chosen who knows when it will be finished.

The most important thing is that this hospital gets built, as current hospitals are not fit for purpose. This is not just about building, it is about three organisations which have historically been very territorial and hostile towards each other coming together and agreeing a plan of action. That process is continuing. It is much harder to build an institution than to build a building.


 Image top UggBoyUggGirl.