Sunday Business Post Letter 21/09/2014

Thank you to the SBP for publishing a letter from NCHA in response to Minister Varadkar’s article in last week’s SBP. Below is the full letter sent in – it was  published in somewhat shortened form.

“Dear Editor

The Minister for Health (SBP,14th Sept.) tried and failed to justify the building of the National Children’s Hospital (NCH) at St. James’s. He says “the debate has got caught up on the perfect location”. There has never been a debate. The Dáil has never debated it, the public’s opinion has never been sought. Groups seeking a greenfield site, but dependent on Department of Health(DoH) money, had their opposition to the government’s choice of the Mater quickly silenced(2006). A request from us to have a debate at Dáil na nÓg was rejected as “too complex a topic for teenagers” to handle. To its shame, Crumlin hospital, ignored and stone-walled by the DoH in its advocacy for children, finally capitulated and joined the NCH’s Development Board in early 2010.

Adult hospital co-location, an ideal, is not an initial requirement. Space, however, is. To suggest that because St. James’s is two and a half times bigger than the tiny Mater site it is therefore brilliant, is a nonsense. Co-location with a Maternity hospital is the immediate and paramount requirement.

With the new offer, to the Dolphin Review  in May 2012, of 36 hectares of the National Sports Campus contiguous with the current Connolly Hospital site at the M50/N3 interchange, giving a total of 145 acres(59 hectares), we have a near-perfect location. Unlike the St. James’s site, it is cheap, of low planning risk and shovel-ready for both a children’s and a maternity hospital. Adult neursurgery, neuroradiology, and transplant surgery can gradually transfer from Beaumont. These are the priority adult specialities from which children would receive improved clinical outcomes.

No inertia, Minister, let’s just get building. The children of Ireland will be cheering.

Dr. Roisin Healy.”