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The Cabinet has failed Ireland’s children


Children’s Hospital – Letter to Cabinet, from C4KH (click to read)

NCHA’scomment  21Dec 2018

On 3rd February 2017 BAM announced it had been awarded the contract to build the Children’s Hospital though this was neither confirmed nor denied by the Government at the time (in fact in the days that followed Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe is on record as saying the project was still to be approved and a business case had yet to be presented to Cabinet).

On the 13th February 2017 Connolly4Kids Hospital( C4KH) sent a letter(link above) to the Government ministers (and  the AG) calling for specific issues to be addressed. This letter went unanswered and the project was formally approved / endorsed by the Minister for Health on the 25th April 2017.  The  C4KH letter called for a response in advance of the contract decision being made. This too was ignored. The picture this interaction paints is one of a closed shop where the decision making process is not in fact a process but a done deal.  Ministers collectively failed in their duty to engage with the allegations in that letter. That is not to say they had to agree with the points made therein, but surely there was an obligation to acknowledge the points and at the very least state why nothing in the letter changed their position. In the absence of any acknowledgment or confirmation whether the issues raised materially impacted the awarding of the Children’s Hospital to St James’s, we cannot see transparency or accountability within the decision making process. That is a key failing on the part of the Cabinet for which the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar and the Minister for Health hold greatest responsibility to the people of Ireland.


What we said on 26th April 2017


Reprint of Press Release from the Connolly for Kids Hospital (C4KH) group issued  20 months ago.

Press Release : Connolly for Kids Hospital ; 26th April 2017

A shameful decision was taken by the government today with the awarding of the Construction Contract to build the new National Children’s Hospital in Dublin’s inner city.

It is going to be the most expensive Children’s Hospital in the world and, far from being the  ‘world-class’ hospital claimed by government, it is actually unfit for purpose and  a waste of public money because of many deficiencies:

There are not enough beds – proportionately fewer than we had in 2012 – with thousands of children on waiting lists!

There are not enough operating theatres – the new children’s hospital in Liverpool (the Alder Hey) has 270 beds and 16 operating theatres – the NPH has 473 beds and 18 operating theatres. Instead of 18 theatres, proportionately the NPH should have 29 theatres.  (Crumlin and Temple St. surgeons asked for more but were completely ignored.)

There are not enough parking spaces – fewer per bed than Crumlin had  per bed in 2010.

There is not enough Family Accommodation – the Alder Hey has 270 beds, with 83 family rooms in its Ronald McDonald facility. The NPH has 473 beds with only 53 family rooms. Proportionately it should have 145 family rooms in its Ronald McDonald facility.

There is not enough space for a ground helipad to land Search and  Rescue helicopters

There is not enough research space.  The Research Centre is SMALLER  than the MINIMUM requested by the researchers, with NO ROOM to expand.  It can accommodate a maximum of 50 researchers compared to 450-500 at Melbourne and at Brisbane Children’s  and 2,000 at Toronto Children’s Hospital.

There is not enough space for individual offices for social workers, psychologists or doctors to work in or speak privately to parents. – Hot-desking will be the rule.

There is not sufficient expansion space for future development.

It is the most difficult hospital in the country for ambulances to get to (according to the experts -ambulance drivers). Remember it will be  the only ‘local’ hospital for children for the greater Dublin region- and beyond.

As long as there is no co-located maternity hospital (and that is a pipe-dream) babies will die and many will be disabled.

Lack of parking provision will lead to serious staffing problems –which will compromise patient care.

It turns out that the most expensive children’s hospital in the world is very far from ‘world class’ – it is not even fit for purpose.

A truly world class hospital can be built at Connolly hospital in Blanchardstown- FASTER and at a saving of at least €250 Million of taxpayers’ money.  That hospital would also have the critical immediate maternity co-location (new Rotunda).


Note to editors:

Press Contacts

Dr Fin Breatnach 087 2569138  ( New Children’s Hospital Alliance)

Ms Aisling McNiffe 087 2484000 (The ExtraSpecial Kids Group)

Mr Jonathan Irwin 087 2558451 (Jack and Jill Foundation)

Dr Roisin Healy 086 6020601 (New Children’s Hospital Alliance)

Thank you Phoenix Children’s Hospital Arizona

NCHA and Connolly for Kids Hospital are grateful to the Children’s in Arizona for threatening legal action against the use of the name Phoenix by the NCH .  Legal action is the only instrument our government fears.

We apologise to our colleagues in  and users of the Arizona hospital  for the crass commandeering of  their name.  Sadly, it only reflects the arrogant ‘culture’  that has characterised the promotion of the St. James’s project by the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, the Children’s Hospital Group Board (all members of both being appointed by the Minister for Health) and the Government. What occult forces have driven this project forward? Certainly not our hospital medical boards, the rights of children, an understanding of childhood or of  paediatric institutions.  Shameful hidden influence by powerful adult interests ?

Is Phoenix the myth that at last is causing that mask  to slip?

Phoenix is wrong name for hospital

Letter published in Irish independent and Irish Examiner,7th November 2017

“Minister Harris recently announced that the new children’s hospital will be named Phoenix Children’s Hospital after the mythical bird, the Phoenix. Myth has it that as the end of its life approaches, the Phoenix builds a pyre, is consumed in its flames and then is reborn, arising from its own ashes.

Is this name not insensitive to the gut-wrenching grief of loss that parents experience when their child dies? Too often, I have seen that grief up close. In my first year alone as the Emergency Department consultant in Crumlin hospital, 28 children were “declared dead” in the department. Figures presented to An Bord Pleanála in 2011 regarding anticipated funeral traffic management at the proposed new hospital noted “approximately one hundred funerals” exiting Crumlin hospital mortuary each year. Recently I have been asked “Will you please put a memorial on the grounds of Our Lady’s (Crumlin Hospital) before it moves, to remember our children who died here”.

Life and death are real, not mythical. As at present, there will be parents in the new hospital who  have to cope with a major life-limiting or terminal illness and the death of their child.  Unlike the Phoenix, their child won’t be coming back. The pain of loss will never go away. Please don’t compound their suffering by such a careless choice of name.  The name should be changed.

Yours etc., Dr Roisin Healy, Paediatric Emergency Medicine specialist (retired), Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin 12.

NCHA agrees.

Medical Boards snubbed by Group Board

Below is an excerpt from the letter sent from the Chair of the Joint Medical Board [of the three Dublin children’s hospitals] to the CEO of the Children’s Hospital Group Board (CHGB), dated 12th Oct2017. The CHGB denied receiving the letter(Irish Times, Bardon/Wall, 23 Oct 2017).

“As an item  on the  agenda  of  our  recent  Joint  Medical  Board  the  proposed  name  for  the  New  Paediatric Hospital i.e. Phoenix Children’s Hospital, was discussed… A subsequent  vote by the Joint Medical  Board members  was unanimous  in its rejection  of the name ‘Phoenix Children’s Hospital’ for the New Paediatric Hospital.”

Compare the new University Hospital in Aarhus, Denmark

DNU facts -from the Danish Hospital website
The project in numbers
– About the building of the New University Hospital in Aarhus:
• Four hospitals in Aarhus are gathered under one roof
250,000 m2 of new build.
  • 160,000 m2 of existing hospital buildings are integrated
•Approx. 30,000 m2 are converted to another function
•Area of lot in total approx. 1,250,000 m2
•Overall budgetary framework of 6.4 billion DKK for new building[less than half the cost of the NCH in Dublin which at 118,000sqm is only half as big and on 12acres]
and 430 million DKK  for reconstruction [7.44DKK = 1 Euro]
•In addition:
o The New Psychiatric Centre of 50,000 m2 with a construction cost of1.25 billion DKK
o Danish Centre for Particle Radiotherapy of 9,500 m2
with a construction cost of 800 million DKK
o Car park with 700 parking spaces and a helipad on top with a construction cost of 160 million DKK
Hospital city with the size of a Danish provincial town…
2.8 km of new ring road
•Three new main access roads
Almost 5,700 parking spaces
The construction in numbers…
• A construction site area of 0.3 square kilometers.[=74acres=30ha]
• The construction of DNU started in 2009
•The first buildings were put into operation in 2015
•The complete project will be finished in 2019

Email from children’s hospital consultant

“The consultant body in general were consulted on very little. They were brought to meetings[ about the new hospital ] to be told what’s was planned, never asked what should happen. The attendance list at the meetings was the most important thing to them [NPHDB/CHGB] so that  they can say at a later date that we were consulted and agreed to everything. The ‘Yes’ men appointed to the board went along with the charade (they were carefully selected for that reason).”
Note:Name of this doctor from Dublin children’s hospital is known to Connolly for Kids Hospital.

A letter today from a parent

Minister Harris
Unfortunately I must put on record my dismay at your endorsement [26th April 2017]of the National Children’s Hospital at the St James campus.

While it is true that no site is perfect – some are more perfect than others.  You chose to ignore the valid concerns of healthcare professionals, parents and medical experts and did not adequately examine the myriad advantages that the Connolly site boasts.

The selection of this inner city campus will do a grave disservice to the present adult patients that use this hospital and future paediatric patients.  The dream of squeezing in a full Maternity Hospital is but a dream as there simply is not enough room for this.

Both you and James Reilly have sealed your place in history for making one of the stupidest decisions for the children of this State over the next 100 years.

The enormity of this judgement error will become apparent over the next number of years and it sickens me to the stomach.

From -a mother who lost a child .

Digging out the hill at St James

Before they will even start to build they will have to dig out in the region of 413,000 cubic metres of materials, i.e approx 40,000 lorries which they estimate will be completed in 3 3/4 years –  per the NPHDB’s  own estimates in their EIS as submitted to An Bord Pleanala.  To put this in context, it is over 9 and a half times the amount of concrete used to build Croke Park.  This is one of the main reasons it is so expensive -not because of increased construction costs.
Over 40,000 children just happen to be buried there-in lime- from the foundling hospital and the poor house.  Don’t suppose it matters  what land fill their remains get dumped in , as we have no nuns to blame??