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  • Northside West

Connolly campaign is back on

Tuesday, 12th February, 2019 8:00am
Connolly campaign is back on
Connolly campaign is back on

Orla Dwyer

FRESH calls have been made for the National Children’s Hospital to be built at Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown as costs for the St James’s project escalate. 

The Connolly for Kids Hospital group is asking for the project to be paused and reconsidered and has reignited its campaign for it to be built in Dublin 15. 

Dr Fin Breatnach, a retired paediatric oncologist involved in the group, said there is no logical explanation for why relocation is not being considered. 

“If you are in a deep hole, the advice is to not keep on digging,” said Breatnach. 

“Having a maternity hospital physically attached to the hospital is essential for babies who require immediate attention.”

The co-location with maternity services is a point highlighted by members of the Connolly for Kids Hospital group. 

It was announced in 2016 that the Rotunda Hospital would be moved to Connolly Hospital and the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital moved to St James. Neither is due to take place until at least 2020. 

Currently, sick newborns are transported by ambulance from maternity hospitals to the nearest children’s hospital. 

The group is proposing that the greenfield site at Connolly would be cheaper, faster and have fewer complications.

It is easily accessible off the M50 with plenty of parking spaces, which would especially benefit those from outside of Dublin. 

“They are not listening, they have never listened,” Breatnach said.

“They should stop and listen to us for a change.”

However, Minister for Health Simon Harris has said the project is past the point of no return and he won’t let it be halted.

The cost to build the hospital is currently estimated at €1.4 billion, which the minister last week described as “reasonable”. 

Aisling McNiffe, advocate and mother of a boy with Down syndrome, said she feels that arrogance is the reason for relocation not being considered. 

“It was a political decision and the children were never considered,” said McNiffe. “We want Varadkar and Simon Harris to stop, reassess the decision and assess the Greenfield in Connolly.

“It makes sense because it will save more time and most importantly, it will save lives.”

A spokesperson for the Children’s Hospital Ireland said that St James’s has many adult services relevant to supporting children and young people would be in the new children’s hospital. 

“The Government decision to co-locate the hospital with St James's Hospital was clinically led and followed a series of reports,” they said. 

“St James's Hospital was chosen because it is Ireland’s largest research-intensive acute adult hospital and has the most clinical specialties and national services in one place.”

Róisín Healy, a retired paediatric emergency medicine specialist, is involved with Connolly for Kids and wants the Government to consider pausing the project and re-assessing the situation. 

“They could save face by at least saying they have examined the option,” Healy said. “They need to look at it from the point of view of the citizen.”

The Kids for Connolly group also claim St James’s is the most difficult hospital in the country for ambulances to access and say lack of parking and affordable housing will lead to serious staffing problems.

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