A total of six hospitals were considered as part of the process undergone by the group. These hospitals included the National Children's Hospital, Tallaght, St. James's Hospital, James Connolly Memorial Hospital in Blanchardstown, Beaumont Hospital, St. Vincent's Hospital and the Mater Hospital. The group felt that only three of these hospitals — Beaumont Hospital, St. James's Hospital and the Mater Hospital — had the breadth and depth of speciality needed to complement the paediatric hospital.
I am not a clinician and am, therefore, not in a position to say what the particular issues were, except to say there are not many tertiary facilities in the National Children's Hospital, Tallaght. The vast majority of children from that hospital's catchment area who have tertiary-related issues are treated at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin. As Deputy Twomey is aware, very sick children, regardless of whether their conditions relate to cancer or cardiac matters, are treated in Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, rather than the National Children's Hospital, Tallaght.
I understand the group narrowed it down to the Mater Hospital, St. James's Hospital and Beaumont Hospital. As a result of a number of other factors, including speed of delivery, it was felt that the Mater Hospital was the most central site and could be developed more quickly than the other two facilities, Beaumont Hospital being located on the north side of the city.
There will be urgent care centres. For example, the National Children's Hospital, Tallaght, has a bed occupancy rate of less than 40%. Thankfully, the vast majority of children who attend hospital do so for relatively minor events, day surgery or ambulatory reasons and do not require the kind of intensive care that will be available at this national tertiary hospital. There will, of course, be children's hospital facilities around the country. The new hospital will be a national hospital for those children who require very specialised treatment.
The McKinsey & Company report recommended co-location. In particular, there are considerable benefits when many hospital facilities are co-located. We can see these benefits even in large countries like the US. Given that Ireland has a population of only 4 million, the report argued very strongly that in certain specialties, it would be impossible to produce sufficient numbers of people to solely carry out paediatric work because the country simply does not contain enough children, given its small population base.
I was in the Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago in the past two days. It is located about three miles out of the city but will move to a downtown city site to co-locate with an adult teaching hospital and a maternity hospital for much the same reasons that we are seeking to do that here. It has about 300 paediatrician consultants on its staff. It is operating on a scale much greater than anything we could have, yet it considers enormous benefits can be gained from co-location.