June 9, 2023

Key health service projects in South East could be shelved for years due to rising cost of new National Children’s Hospital

POTENTIALLY lifesaving health service investments in the South East could be shelved for up to five years because of the escalating cost of the new National Children’s Hospital, according to a confidential Government report.

The total bill for developing the facility at St James’s Hospital is now expected to be more than €1.73 billion, an internal memo for Government drawn up by Health Minister Simon Harris shows.

This is €300 million more than the construction costs cited by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. The overall cost could rise even further – by up to €145 million – in the years ahead, the report warns.

The Irish Times today reveals that Mr Harris told Ministers that given the escalating costs, a series of planned healthcare projects “would have to be halted or significantly curtailed for up to five years to contribute towards the funding increase for the new children’s hospital project in 2019 within the existing capital plan allocation”.

Ministers were given a list of projects that could be affected by the need to fund cost overruns at the new hospital.

These include the second cath lab at University Hospital Waterford, the regional hospital for the South East.

Other key projects that could be affected include a €10 million development of extra hospital beds in Limerick, a €56 million investment in 90 long-term residential care facilities for older people in 11 counties and primary care centres in Clondalkin and Monaghan that could be affected by the need to fund cost overruns at the new hospital.

Doubts now also hang over the development of accommodation in the community for people with disabilities moving out of institutions, new laboratories and theatres at the Coombe hospital, and a planned €3.4 million investment in paediatric and blood services.

The Cabinet was told that while an additional €99 million would be needed to fund the new children’s hospital project next year due to the rising costs, even larger additional amounts will be required in future years, including €120 million in 2021 and €150 million in 2022.

“To fund such a quantum over the four-year period would in effect mean that there would be no development of appraisals and early planning for Slaintecare/capacity projects in the years 2019-2022.”

Mr Harris reportedly said in the memo that the total cost of the development to 2023 was now estimated at €1.73 billion.


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