Category Archives: Editor

Posts from the NCHA editor

Hospital Board issue incorrect “Key Facts”- 320, not 380, ensuite rooms

Eilish Hardiman, CEO, issued a letter to Children’s Hospital staff, 16th January 2019, after meeting the Oireachtas Health Committee. Please note that a “key fact” included is incorrect. There are not “380 individual, ensuite inpatient bedrooms, each with a bed for parent”. There are, as per Bord Pleanála planning permission, 320 (not 380) en suite individual bedrooms

There are major question marks over the accuracy of many “key facts” issued by the Children’s Hospital Group Board. Truth would be helpful- and deserved by the Irish public.

NCHA Submission to Joint Health Committee

On Wednesday last,16th January 2019, members of the New Children’s Hospital Alliance and the ExtraSpecial Kids group were present in the public gallery to hear Tom Costello, Chair NPHDB, John Pollock, Project Director NPHDB and Eilish Hardiman, CEO and Emma Curtis, Medical Director, Children’s Hospital Group being questioned by committee members regarding the out-of-control costs of the NCH project at St James’s.

Go ahead given to BAM April 2017 despite Cost and Medical concerns

2nd February 2017 – BAM states that the company had been notified that it is the preferred bidder for the NCH construction contract.

There is no DoH statement on the matter but Minister for Finance , Paschal Donohoe,states on RTE One’s ‘Morning Ireland’ that the process is ongoing and that a ‘business case’ was yet to be presented to him to make a decision on. He will be working with Minister Harris on this.

13th February – A letter is sent to all members of the Cabinet from the Connolly for Kids Hospital Group including the New Children’s Hospital Alliance(NCHA) and the Jack and Jill Foundation requesting that certain questions be answered on Cost and other matters before the contract is approved by cabinet.

6th March 2017 – Minister of Health, Simon Harris, is tasked by Cabinet with answering the questions in that letter “directly and with urgency” but despite repeated requests by the Government Chief Whip, Regina Doherty, no reply to the letter is received from the Minister – this is the Minister who prides himself in demanding “democratic accountability”

24th April 2017 – Minister for Health Simon Harris presents a formal memo to Cabinet . Cabinet approves the Definitive Business Case, including the full project cost.

3rd August 2017 – BAM signs the Construction Contract

Functions of the NPHDB and CHGB

The functions of the NPHDB, as outlined in S.I. 246 of 2007, are:

  • to plan, design, build, furnish and equip a national paediatric hospital (‘the new children’s hospital’) in accordance with a brief approved by the Health Services Executive (“the HSE”) with the prior consent of the Minister, and subject to any subsequent variations to this brief as may be determined by the HSE in consultation with the NPHDB, and with the prior consent of the Minister; and
  • do any other thing as is necessary for the performance of its functions.

The other functions of the NPHDB are currently undertaken by the Children’s Hospital Group Board (CHGB). These functions are as follows:

  • in consultation with the relevant hospitals, prepare plans for the transfer of services from the relevant hospitals to the hospital;
  • in consultation with the relevant hospitals, prepare a human resource strategy for the transfer to the new children’s hospital; and
  • explore the possibility of securing philanthropic contributions to meet all or part of the capital cost of developing the hospital, and foster the philanthropic interests that already exist in relation to the provision of paediatric services.

Responsibility for these functions passed to the CHGB on the13th September 2013, as set out in an operational agreement between the NPHDB, the CHGB and the HSE and approved by the Department of Health.

Costs that Connolly and St. James’s submitted to Dolphin 2012


 See below -the  costing estimate for the NPH by St.James (inner urban, brownfield) was less than that of Connolly  hospital (M50, greenfield) -strange!

The NATIONAL PAEDIATRIC HOSPITAL INDEPENDENT REVIEW , commissioned by James Reilly,Minister for Health, PART ONE : FINANCIAL ANALYSIS, July 2011 gives  €650m as the budget for the NPH at the MATER site .

Connolly Hospital submission of NPH Construction Cost ,May 2012, to the Dolphin Group :-


St. James’s Hospital submission of Construction Cost,( May 2012) to the Dolphin group :-

Building cost NPH,Maternity 2012

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.