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Kids' hospital plans 'spectacular' - Varadkar

Wednesday 12th August 2015 - Deborah Condon , Irish Health View Article Here

The Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, has described the plans for the new National Children's Hospital as ‘spectacular'.

The plans for the hospital, which if approved will be based on the grounds of St James's Hospital in Dublin, are being lodged with An Bord Pleanála on Monday afternoon.

A design team has been working on the plans for the last year. They also include details of the two new paediatric urgent care satellite centres, which are to be located at Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown and Tallaght Hospital.

"This is an important milestone on the road to building our long-awaited world-class new National Children's Hospital. The plans are spectacular and the design is iconic. It will be the largest single investment in healthcare in Ireland ever and subject to planning permission work, will be well underway in the new year," Minister Varadkar commented.

The decision to locate the hospital at St James's was decided at the end of 2012. Earlier that year, An Bord Pleanála refused an application for it to be located on the same site as Dublin's Mater Hospital.

That version of the children's hospital was due to have been completed by next year. Some €40 million was spent on development plans for the Mater site, however most of that was subsequently written off.

The current hospital will cost around €650 million and should be fully operational by 2019, subject to planning permission.

Speaking about the latest plans, John Pollack, project manager of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB), which oversaw the design team, described the process as ‘challenging and exciting'.

"To have the opportunity to oversee the design and build of a facility that will positively impact on the lives of children and their families for generations to come is quite overwhelming yet extremely rewarding.

"Over the last number of months we have listened to the needs of the staff in the hospitals and integrated them with the needs of families and children to deliver a design that works for all. At all times, we have also taken the views and concerns of local residents into account and believe that we have designed plans for a building of which everyone can be very proud," he said.

The hospital will contain 13 wards and 380 single inpatient rooms, which will include an overnight bed for parents. A 60-bed facility near the entrance will also be available for family accommodation.

However, the plans have not been welcomed by everyone, with some questioning the decision to locate the hospital at St James's. Jonathan Irwin, founder of the Jack & Jill Foundation, is vehemently opposed to the decision, believing that the city centre campus is the wrong location.

He believes Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown is the better option due to, among other things, its 46 hectares of open space, which would allow for expansion in the future, as well as its close proximity to the M50.

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