Whither the new children’s hospital?

Posted in Blog by saraburke on May 13, 2011

Today, 12 May 2011, news broke of the resignation of Ailish Hardiman, the CEO of the children’s hospital planning board and co-incidentally Minister Reilly published information of the independent review to be carried out on the cost and location of the hospital. So whither the children’s hospital from here?  Minister James Reilly has promised this review since taking up post as Minister of Health. Eight weeks into the job he has announced this high-powered independent review and it is 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 European Health Property Network. They will be paid €70,000 plus VAT.  And clinical review is being carried out by four high powered children hospital CEOs from Boston, Colorado, Brisbane and Great Ormond St, they are doing their work pro bono, except for travel expenses. Peter Steer from Brisbane has very similar experiences of territorial divide in the city on where to locate their children’s hospitals.

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 eg they will look at a greenfield site on M50, 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 supportive of the Mater site then we’ve lost about 6 months as they were ready to go to planning in Jan/Feb of this year but put back by the election and this promised review. This process started in 2007, originally it was meant to be built by 2013, now 2015/ 6 are likely if it’s on the Mater. But if a new site who knows.

The most important thing is that this hospital gets built , current hospitals are not fit for purpose. Also this is not just about building this is about three organisational which are very territorial and traditionally hostile towards each other coming together and that process is continuing. It is much harder to build an institution than to build a building.

The resignation of Ailish Hardiman, CEO fo the Planning Board is very bad optics for the project – someone jumping ship. However she is in a temporary job and is highly regarded by those around her. Getting CEO of Tallaght hospital is a big job and maybe puts her in a better position if she wants to go for new hospital CEO. Also she has done what she can, she got it to planning and its on hold due to election, and she will be there til August when review will be well done by then.

The board refused to comment Mary but they have lost two chairs in less than six months and now Harry Crosbie is interim chair. Yes, Philip Lynch resigned as chair in October, John Gallagher in March, but I believe they want the review to happen, to clear the air, to get support for it, and they are hopeful/optimistic it will come down in favour of Mater site and if not their job is done.

We will know by the end of June. It can’t come quick enough, the most important thing is that this hospital get built and the sooner the better for the children of Ireland…

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