Dáil debates

Wednesday, 27 September 2006


Hospitals Building Programme.

3:00 pm

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)

Before I became Minister for Health and Children I had given little consideration to paediatric services and knew little about them. Since then, virtually every paediatrician I met in this city and around the country said we should bring the services together and have a state-of-the-art hospital. We were planning to build a new hospital in Crumlin, probably on-site, and a new hospital for Temple Street Children's Hospital, and we have facilities in Beaumont, Tallaght and St. James's hospitals.

McKinsey was commissioned to examine best practice around the world. It studied approximately 17 countries and concluded the child population here merited only one tertiary facility bringing all the expertise together. Furthermore, it said that because of the relatively small number of children who would require certain specialists these would have to be shared with adult services.

When the McKinsey report was published last Christmas everybody signed up to it. Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, Temple Street Children's Hospital and Tallaght Hospital all regarded it as a good report and were optimistic. The difficulty arose when the site selection began. Several sites were examined. I am not an expert in construction or hospitals but I have visited hospitals in the United States which are on small sites. There are several in Manhattan and I recently saw one in Toronto.

Although Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin is on a large site it does not fill the site. Obviously the site must accommodate the hospital but the most important factor is what happens in the hospital. I hope everyone will work to make the hospital a state-of-the-art, world class facility for children.

The intention is to have one hospital for the country, not just Dublin. Urgent care centres will be provided in at least one, if not more locations, and the group has been asked to examine how many of these centres are required. Thankfully, these deal with 95% of the reasons children go to hospital in the first instance.

All those who tendered to have the hospital co-located, including St. James's, St. Vincent's, Beaumont, Tallaght and the Mater hospitals, offered sites. That was the basis on which the decision was made and no problems arose about the site. No ethos issues arose because this will be a State hospital. It will not belong to the Mater Hospital, although there seems to be some confusion about that. We will introduce legislation to ensure it is owned by the State.


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