Back to the hospital drawing board – for another 10 years

SUFFER little children.

Because, as civil servants dither, planners consider and health ministers come and go, they’re the ones in distress.

Today’s decision will further delay the opening of the long overdue National Children’s Hospital.

It’s ironic that the news broke a day after it emerged that some children are waiting for treatment on trolleys for 24 hours at Crumlin and Temple Street hospitals.

The country’s paediatric services are clearly creaking under the weight of cutbacks.

With little cash to alleviate the situation, and now a fresh delay to the National Children’s Hospital, things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

Health Minister James Reilly has, until now, been trumpeting that the new children’s hospital would be open by 2016.

Some chance now. Try 2026.

It’s back to the drawing board. Not only will a new building have to be designed but the Government, as of today, don’t even have a site to put it on.

With parents’ hopes are dashed and children continuing to lie on trolleys serious questions must be answered on who advised the Department of Health on the location of the hospital.

Recent comments from Minister Reilly that building would begin in the Mater area next year gave the impression that its D1 site was a done deal.

But a clear majority within An Bord Pleanala disagreed.

Common sense might tell you sticking a 16 storey 445-bed building in a built-up urban area may have been problematic.

But common sense is clearly non-existent in the Department of Health. The result being yet another shambolic, hugely expensive farce.

The real tragedy behind this debacle is that €32m of public money has been thrown away on the Mater site bid – €4m on planning preparation alone.

That’s €32m could go a long way to treating seriously ill children. But it’s gone.

Back on your trolleys, kids.

 This post first appeared in the Evening Herald, February 23, 2012.


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