An investigation on Ireland’s New Children’s Hospital

Carolina Hernandez

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Is money speaking louder than children’s lives in today’s Ireland?

We wrote to all of the County Councils and we got 20 to agree, but it was not enough” Dr Roisin Healy

NCH Hospital_by Carolina Hernandez
NCH Hospital_by Carolina Hernandez

Political interests are being questioned over children´s lives in the location of The New Children’s Hospital scheduled for 2021. The Dublin´s hospital will cost over €1 billion to build at St James’s Hospital’s campus.

Entities such as the Rural Independent Group and Connolly for Kids as well as parents argue that with 90% of the children living outside the M50, it is not the best-suited place to build a hospital.

You have to remember that it is not a children´s hospital for Dublin, but the National Children´s Hospital for Ireland

Mentioned  Aoife, a mother from St. James’s neighbourhood and one of the 52% who answered “no” to The Circular’s survey question regarding the location of the hospital.

NCH survey by Carolina Hernandez
NCH survey by Carolina Hernandez

The noise surrounding the co-location of The New Children’s Hospital which will hold a tri-location of paediatric, adult and maternity services, is said to bring benefits for the local community, however, opponents are concerned that the children might not get to the help in time. `No parent in the world wants to use public transport for their children in an emergency and there isn´t enough parking for everyone´ said a mother of two children to The Circular.

The New Children´s Hospital will take over the services of the existing three Dublin children’s hospitals: Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Temple Street Children’s University Hospital and the National Children’s Hospital at Tallaght, making the demanding for parking at the area even higher.

The Newstalk C Poll of 2016 confirms that, two years ago, 73% of the Irish citizens believed that St. James´s Hospital was not the right location and from that; 23% believed that Connolly Hospital outside Dublin city could have been a better location.

The medical argument is `especially the new-borns should stay beside a maternity hospital, but not necessarily an adult’s hospital´ said Dr Roisin Healy, Representative of the New Children´s Hospital Alliance in an interview to The Circular. However, The Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital will be translated to the campus last of the NCH project.

Despite the effort of the concerned parents and the opposed New Children´s Hospital Alliance and the Rural Independent Group, The New Children´s Hospital construction plan is going ahead regardless the concerns over access and raising costs. `It is clearly a TD´s decision, they couldn´t care less about the children´ said Brian, a South Circular Road’s neighbour in the survey for The Circular.

 

Dublin citizens as well as Dr Healy believe that The New Children´s Hospital have the word “Corruption” written all over `the children are being used to kick-start the development of St. James’s hospital´ says Dr Healy and adds `There was an inspection on the An Bord Pleanála when they refused the project on the Mater site back in 2012, so they could not refuse the St. James’s this time if you know what I mean´.

Dr Healy now retired from the New Children´s Hospital Alliance, believes that there are many secrets behind the institutions that agreed on the construction of the project such as the An Bord Pleanála, the Government and Dublin City Council. She says `They are pretending that the project is for the children, but there is absolutely no reason to build and other building in Tallaht´.

On the document responding the arguments of the association Connolly for Kids regarding the location of the NCH project at St. James’s Hospital, The New Children’s Hospital board responded every demand to the association. However, according to Dr Healy, not every number agreed `they said they will have 1,000 underground car parking spaces, which 675 of them will be for patients, but later at the ABP meeting they said those 675 spaces could also be used by the staff´.

NCH Entrance_by Carolina Hernandez
NCH Entrance_by Carolina Hernandez

The government never agreed to meet them said Dr Healy `We wrote to all of the County Councils and we got 20 to agree, but it was not enough for the Government.´ the association also collected 60,000 signs from parents.

There have been different documents regarding the topic and all of them replied by The New Children´s Hospital board but none of them by the government. There was even an article in TheIndependent.ie written by Dr Eamonn Faller a doctor who used to work at St James’s Hospital. He said that he witnessed ambulances stocked in traffic, he also had problems accessing the hospital and parking, and with the NCH it will only get worse.

As it is a Children´s Hospital for all Ireland and not just for Dublin, must of the ambulances are going to be directed towards the NCH for emergencies, according to Dr Healy and `apparently the emergency rooms will not be open at all times´ leaving more questions on the case unsolved.

With the actual “trolley problems” in Ireland, the NCH board will have to solve major problems and the project cost is already estimated in more than €1 billion, however, the majority of the income is to come from Exchequer funding, while €67 million will come from commercial and philanthropic funding.

NCH Construction_by Carolina Hernandez
NCH Construction_by Carolina Hernandez

The opposition claims that Connolly Hospital would have been a better location for the project due to the wider space and that St. James’s campus has no place to expand in case needed. However, the NCH project believes that St. James’s location has better transport conditions.

The construction work for The New Children´s Hospital started in 2017 and will continue its course despite many concerns. `The project is not going to be ready for 2021 and not even to 2023´ says Dr Healy, hoping that the government could use this time to think things true and put the children´s lives before the digits.

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Carolina Hernandez