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  • News

It's not too late to reverse hospital decision

Monday, 27th February, 2017 7:59am
It's not too late to reverse hospital decision

An aerial view of the proposed National Children’s Hospital at St James’s

It's not too late to reverse hospital decision

An aerial view of the proposed National Children’s Hospital at St James’s

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By Jonathan Irwin

IT’S NEVER too late to say no to the wrong decision, especially when it relates to the location of the National Children’s Hospital – a building of monumental importance for all of Ireland’s children that must be fit for purpose for 100 years to come.  

This Government has shown scant regard for the 65,000 signatures we collected which they never even acknowledged. Also, a Red C Poll showed that 73 per cent were against St James’s as the location for the new hospital.

However, now is the time to wake up and listen instead of sleepwalking into this purchase of the pig in a poke that is the St James’s site. And what of the runaway price of €1 billion plus, excluding IT and hospital fit-out, which, according to HSE boss Tony O’Brien, we simply can’t afford “within the current capital envelope”. 

Now we all know that envelopes plus politics usually equals trouble. But in this case, Mr O’Brien’s intervention may be the jolt we need to call a halt to this madness before it really is too late.

A number of weeks ago, at the invitation of Mattie McGrath - one politician who is never afraid to break from the herd – we marched into Leinster House to make one last plea for common sense and for the powers that be to consider the Connolly Hospital site in Blanchardstown as a real alternative to the St James’s mess.

Dispelling the ‘done deal’ and ‘just get on with it’ mentality, we started by explaining how contracts have yet to be signed and how Tony O’Brien’s intervention reminds us that it’s not too late to pull the plug on St James’s.   

We challenged the claim that St James’ is the best site based on medical outcomes for children. We must not accept this claim without the evidence. 

Where are these super specialities in St James’s adult hospital that will benefit sick children? We hear the claim again and again, but never see the evidence. 

Not acceptable. Not good enough.

On the other hand, co-location with a maternity hospital is a very important factor and we do have plenty of evidence that wheeling newborns across a corridor, instead of by ambulance across the city, will save lives.

Newsflash – the Rotunda is destined for Connolly.

Not one of the 60 senators and TDs who attended defended the St James’s site. “But what could we do at this late stage?” they asked, a bit too sheepishly for our liking. 

A cross party motion? A demand for the evidence of better medical outcomes based on the St James’s location? Clarity on timelines and contracts?  

As for sparing political embarrassment, we can have a ‘win, win’ outcome for all if the Government now flipped the planned satellites day centres from Connolly to James’s while going the other way with the National Children’s Hospital.

With Connolly, the country now has the opportunity of having one of the most outstanding health facilities in the world on 145 acres surrounded by grass and lakes instead of a pollution-ridden area in Dublin’s city centre. 

We are asking more GPs and medical workers to remove the invisible but very tight gag and make their voices heard at this critical time to ensure we do the right thing for our children; for their future patients.  

This is not the time to take the easy option and leave it to someone else to speak out.

• Jonathan Irwin is founder of the Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation and a supporter of the Connolly for Kids Hospital Group.


Jonathan Irwin

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