2,500 Galway children a year will use new national children’s hospital

More than 2,500 Galway children may benefit from the services provided by the new €650 million national children’s hospital in Dublin, which is expected to be completed by 2019.

The facility, which is to be built on the campus of St James’ Hospital, will bring the three existing children’s hospitals – Crumlin, Temple Street, and the paediatric services at Tallaght - under one roof for the first time in the history of the State. 

The new hospital is the largest, most complex and significant capital investment project ever undertaken in Ireland.

While it is difficult to estimate the number of local children likely to attend the new centre, figures for last year indicate that 2,547 Galway children attended outpatient clinics at the existing paediatric hospitals. They represented 3.48 per cent of the total outpatient attendees.

A total of 1,535 local children (2.04 per cent of the total number of patients ) attended Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin in 2014, 919 children (1.21 per cent ) attended Temple Street Children’s Hospital while 93 (0.23 per cent ) attended outpatient clinics at Tallaght Hospital.

Oral hearings on the planning application to build the new hospital on the St James’ Hospital site in James’ Street are due to take place in mid November. Last Friday was the deadline for the receipt of observations - submissions of support or objections.

The Children’s Hospital Group say the new facility will be at the centre of a new Model of Care for Paediatric Services in Ireland and will result in better clinical outcomes for Ireland’s sickest children.

Within the new Model of Care, Galway will be home to one of the three larger paediatric units (Galway, Cork, Limerick ) around the country. The majority of care and treatment will be delivered locally.

“Where clinically appropriate, Galway children will be treated in the local paediatric unit. Only the sickest children will be required to travel for treatment to the new children’s hospital which, subject to planning permission, will be developed on a shared campus with St James’s Hospital in Dublin.

“In fact, the vast majority of paediatric services are delivered on a same day basis and delivered locally with less than 22 per cent of children attending the existing children’s hospitals coming from counties outside the greater Dublin area (Dublin Greater area meaning Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow ).”

The new children’s hospital will have 473 beds (380 inpatient and 93 daycare ), according to a presentation given by the Children’s Hospital Group to the HSE West’s regional health forum recently.

Suzanne Dempsey, the chief director of nursing for the Children’s Hospital Group, told the meeting all the bedrooms will be single rooms with ensuites and family areas included. There will be play areas, external gardens, a therapy area with hydro pool and gym, and a primary and post primary school. 

The chief executive of the Children’s Hospital Group Eilish Hardiman was appointed in November 2013. She is from Killimor in east Galway and began her career as a general nurse. She has more than 23 years’ acute academic hospital experience, several of which were at corporate hospital management level. These included being CEO of Tallaght Hospital, deputy chief executive and director of nursing of St James’ Hospital as well as CEO to the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board.

Dr James Browne, who was appointed president of NUI Galway in 2008, is the chairperson of the  new Children’s Hospital Group Board. Among its duties are the amalgamation of the three existing children’s hospitals and the transfer of services to the new hospital. Dr Browne has extensive experience both as a project leader and partner in multi-million euro European Union funded research and development projects including joint industry/university projects between European partners and partners in China, United States and Japan.

He served as a European member on the board of IMS (Integrated Manufacturing Systems ) and as Chairman of the Irish Universities Association. Dr Browne has significant industrial experience, having spent some years working with Nortel Networks (then Northern Telecom ) in Canada and Ireland. Dr Browne has also consulted with a wide range of Irish and international corporations.

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