I am very grateful for the opportunity to update the Seanad on the new children's hospital project. Over the past number of weeks there has been significant debate and discussion regarding the development of the new children’s hospital and the increase in the cost of the project. I advised Government in December 2018 that the overall cost to complete the project is €1.433 billion, €450 million more than advised to Government in April 2017 when it gave the green light for the construction of the hospital and the two satellite centres. Some €319 million of the additional cost relates to construction costs and the balance of €131 million, which includes €50 million in VAT, relates to costs associated with staff, consultants, planning, design team fees, risk and contingency, and management equipment service.
I have already made myself extremely clear in this regard; the Government and I, and all those involved in this project, were and remain deeply unhappy at the cost escalation of this project over what was originally committed to by the Government. On 18 December, at the same time as the Government approved the construction investment to allow phase B of the hospital to be instructed, the Government also approved the commissioning of an independent review of the escalation in cost. As the House will know, this independent comprehensive review process is under way and will examine the contributory factors and associated responsibilities so that any potential weaknesses are identified and comprehensively and speedily resolved in the interests of the successful completion of the project and the effective management of public funds. The terms of reference also require the review to develop recommendations which may identify any areas of potential cost savings or reductions which are consistent with the applicable contractual undertakings and the delivery of the project. It is also required to address major residual risks, control and oversight issues and bring greater oversight of performance and value for money. The report from this review process is expected to be completed by the end of March.
This debate, however, would not be complete without a reminder of the progress made on this project and the game-changer it represents in the delivery of services for children. It is important that we do not forget the purpose of this project, which is to deliver transformational change in the delivery of healthcare for children in Ireland. I have said many times before, and will reiterate here again today, that the children and young people of Ireland have been waiting far too long for a modern healthcare facility. This new children’s hospital project will transform the delivery of children’s healthcare. The capital investment will be underpinned and complemented by a new model of care for the delivery of services to children. We will be replacing outdated hospital buildings with modern and appropriate infrastructure, including fit-for-purpose, single en suite rooms for every child designed to best serve the needs of our children, of their families and of the staff who care for them. There are currently 14 theatres, including one cath lab, in the three existing hospitals, which has to be supplemented by outsourcing procedures to other hospitals. This limits our ability to tackle the long waiting times for surgeries for our children. In our new hospital there will be 22 theatres, including two cath labs, which will have a profoundly positive impact on activity levels and on theatre waiting times for children.
The equipment at the new children's hospital will include five MRI machines, with space for two more, three CT scanners, 30 ultrasound machines and seven X-ray rooms, all of which will be state of the art. As part of the project, new outpatient and urgent care centres will also be provided at Connolly and Tallaght hospitals. These centres will expand outpatient and urgent care capacity and provide services in modern facilities. Overall, the three new sites will significantly increase capacity across all types of care, including increases of 16% in inpatient capacity, 7% in emergency department attendances, 26% in day case capacity and 47% in outpatient capacity. These are significant figures indicating the scope of improvement that children and their parents will experience.
Commentary relating to the new hospital sometimes seems to be about a project that only exists on paper and has not yet commenced. I invite Members to go down to the St. James's site or to Connolly hospital and see that this is certainly not the case. Considerable work has been undertaken on the project since April 2017. Phase B works are under way at the St. James's site. Works at Connolly hospital are on target for practical completion of the building this year, with the opening scheduled for this summer. The outpatient and urgent care centre at Connolly will start delivering improvements to healthcare for children this year, under the responsibility of Children's Health Ireland.
Works at Tallaght are under way, with a target handover date of July 2020. The establishment of Children's Health Ireland by legislation passed by this House at the end of last year was a major milestone in this project and will further assist the ongoing operational integration of the three hospitals in advance of the opening of the new children's hospital and outpatient and urgent care centres. The hospital will have a leadership role nationally in the implementation of the national model of care for paediatrics and neonatology, working closely with paediatric service providers in other hospitals across the country, in the primary care service and in the community.
We have an unprecedented opportunity to deliver a considerably positive change in healthcare for Ireland's children and young people. While we must, and will, learn from the issues that have arisen in the project thus far, the priority is and continues to be delivering on the vision to improve health services for the children and young people.