Consultants warn Reilly over children’s hospital site (Irish Times)

Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown is expected to top Dr James Reilly’s list of sites for
a new national children’s hospital

PAUL CULLEN, Health Correspondent

MINISTER FOR Health James Reilly is on a collision course with medical
specialists over the expected selection of Connolly Hospital
Blanchardstown as the location for the new national children’s
hospital.

Dr Reilly said at the weekend he would bring the long-awaited decision
on the hospital to the Taoiseach and Tánaiste in the next 10 days and
a Cabinet decision was likely to follow shortly after.

However, consultants working in Dublin’s existing three children’s
hospitals have warned Dr Reilly, in a letter seen by The Irish Times,
against locating a new hospital away from adult and maternity
facilities.

Separately, the master of the Rotunda maternity hospital, Dr Sam
Coulter-Smith, expressed concern last week that the decision on the
project was becoming a political rather than a clinical one.

Blanchardstown is seen as the favourite to win not only because it can
offer to build the project on a greenfield site with fewer planning
difficulties but also because it is located in the constituency of
Ministers Joan Burton and Leo Varadkar.

Another greenfield site, at Belcamp in north Dublin, which is in Dr
Reilly’s constituency, has also featured strongly in speculation.

In contrast, bids on two established hospital sites, at the Mater and
St James’s, are said to have fallen out of contention. Dr Reilly
appointed a review group to consider the options after An Bord
Pleanála rejected an earlier planning application to build the
hospital at the Mater last February but its report has been with the
Minister for four months.

Last month, medical board chairs of the three existing children’s
hospitals – Our Lady’s in Crumlin, Temple Street and the National
Children’s Hospital in Tallaght – wrote to Dr Reilly urging him to
build the hospital as soon as possible. The authors stress the
importance of tri-locating the project with a major maternity hospital
and a major adult teaching hospital with the “presence and depth” of
the more than 25 specialties a new children’s hospital would need.

This is an implied criticism of the bids from Blanchardstown and
Belcamp. Connolly Hospital is a teaching hospital but it has fewer
specialties than the Mater or St James’s. However, it is planning a
link-up with the Royal College of Surgeons and Beaumont Hospital.

Belcamp is a completely greenfield site, though future link-ups with
Beaumont are also envisaged.

The letter, which was written on behalf of consultants at the three
hospitals, says the new project will have to be on an adult campus
“capable of delivering care at a high level across the maximum of
specialties possible”.

Meanwhile, in Galway at the weekend, when asked if the project would
still be completed by the original 2016 timeframe, Dr Reilly replied
that “hope springs eternal”. Asked whether he would be promoting a
particular location he said: “The methodology around the choice of
this will be robust and will be open for all to be examined, and that
will be seen.”