The granting of planning permission recently for the new €650 million national children’s hospital in Dublin has been hailed as a “watershed moment” for children, young people and their families by the chief executive of the Children’s Hospital Group, who is from east Galway.
Eilish Hardiman, who is from Killimor and has more than 23 years’ acute academic hospital experience, said the decision to give the green light to the project will “positively transform” how paediatric services are delivered for children and young people in Ireland.
“These buildings are a significant catalyst for how the new national model of care will be delivered. We are now firmly on our way to making this long awaited children’s hospital a reality. Anyone who deals with paediatric services in Ireland - as a patient, a parent or as a member of staff - fully understands how badly this new facility is needed.
“We are looking forward to working with the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB ) and the rest of the design team to start making this great hospital a reality,” said Ms Hardiman, who began her career as a general nurse and was formerly the CEO of Tallaght Hospital.
She said a large number of people have played a significant part in getting the hospital project to this milestone.
“The staff in the children’s hospitals, the staff in paediatric services throughout the country, the CEOs, management teams and boards of the hospitals, the community around the St James’s campus, the Children’s Hospital Group Board and the development board, the HSE and the Department of Health - but most importantly the voices of the child and the parents and families of sick children have ensured that the need for this hospital was fully understood by successive governments. I want to thank everyone who has played their part – this truly is a decision for the whole of Ireland to celebrate.”
The new hospital will be developed on a shared campus with St James’s Hospital in Dublin 8. It will bring the three exisiting 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 facility is the largest, most complex and significant capital investment project ever undertaken in Ireland.
Building works for the hospital and two paediatric outpatient departments and urgent care centres at Tallaght and Connolly Hospitals, will begin this summer and the hospital will open in 2020. It will be seven storeys tall but the majority of the building will be sitting at four storeys. It will have 380 single inpatient rooms.
While it is difficult to estimate the number of Galway children likely to attend the new centre, figures for 2014 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 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.
About 77.6 per cent of admissions and 63.3 per cent of day patients presenting at the new children’s hospital will be from the greater Dublin Area (Dublin/Meath/Kildare/Wicklow ). A total of 1.63 per cent of inpatients and 2.69 per cent of day cases will come from Galway. Most local children will still be cared for in their regional centre in Galway - only those requiring specialist care will need to travel to the new children’s hospital.