Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to accept that his original assessment regarding the potential cost of the new National Children’s Hospital (NCH) will now lead to widespread delays of other vital healthcare projects. Deputy McGrath was speaking as concerns continue to mount regarding the exponential increase in the funding required to bring the project to completion:
“We are now close to €1.4 billion in costs from an original assessment of just over €404 million. That is absolutely outrageous and cannot be accounted for by construction related inflation as the Minister said earlier this week.
The facts of the matter are these: on Wednesday, 29 Mar 2017, I and my colleagues in the Rural Independent Group brought forward a Motion demanding that the government call a halt to its proposal to build the NCH at the St James site.
Along with the Connolly for Kids Group and the Jack & Jill Foundation we highlighted that the cost of construction of the National Children’s Hospital had already increased from €404 million in 2012, to approximately €1.1 billion and rising in 2017.
We informed the Dáil during that debate that the same differential would apply to the St. James’s Hospital site as it did to the then recent doubling of the estimated cost of building the National Maternity Hospital on a brownfield as opposed to a greenfield site, at St. Vincent’s University Hospital.
We were also very clear that due to the restricted nature of the proposed St. James’s Hospital site, parking provision for the National Children’s Hospital would be dramatically lower and hugely more expensive than that of international comparator hospitals.
Indeed the Independent Review of the National Children’s Hospital project (2011) and the Review Group on the National Children’s Hospital (2012) stated that it would be 25 per cent less expensive to build on a greenfield site than on an urban site.
All of these concerns were ignored by Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and the Labour Party. So it is a bit rich for them to start complaining now when the damage has been done.
They all had ample opportunity to listen to the genuine fears around the escalation of costs and the impact that this would have.
Unfortunately they chose to band together and defeat the Rural Independent Group’s Motion which is what has contributed to the absurd situation we are in today.
As I said at the time; the people who will lose most on this project will be the families and the sickest children in the state. That is now the overwhelming shame that all of the major parties will have to live with,” concluded Deputy McGrath.