Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (560)

Joan Collins


560. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Health if the National Children’s Hospital site will be closed with immediate effect until 31 January 2020 and then be reviewed given the virulent Covid-19 infection rate and the need to halt the rate of infection (details supplied). [2573/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Following the government decisions taken regarding the Level 5 restrictions, which I was part of, and the making of the Health Act 1947 (Section 31a - Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No. 10) (Amendment) Regulations 2021, the National Children’s Hospital project is comprehended within the exemptions to closure.

Paragraph 5 of Part 2 of the Schedule to the Health Act 1947 (Section 31a - Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No. 10) Regulations 2020 (as amended) details the construction and development that is included in the definition of an essential service and whereby a worker may leave his or her place of residence and attend a premises for the provision of that essential service.

The recent amendments to the Regulations significantly enhance and expand upon “Construction and Development” deemed to be an essential service under Part 2 of the Schedule to the Original Regulations. A project such as the National Children’s Hospital is exempted from restrictions as the development of an essential health or related project and isn’t dependent on it being linked to preventing, limiting, minimising or slowing the spread of Covid-19.

In relation to the National Children’s Hospital, the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) has statutory responsibility for planning, designing, building and equipping the new hospital.

The NPHDB acknowledges that the construction is causing some disruption to local residents and has advised the Department that it is committed to working collaboratively with the Resident Project Monitoring Committee to mitigate against this disruption as much as is possible.

The Committee is made up of Resident Representatives, the Main Construction Contractor, local councillors, the NPHDB and other stakeholders to the project. The Committee meets monthly and the NPHDB advised the Department that the Committee met twice last week to seek to address residents’ concerns.

The Resident Project Monitoring Committee has been operating very successfully for the last number of years and it is the appropriate forum through which residents should raises issues related to construction, along with the Residents' 24/7 Helpline which has been in operation since August 2016.

The health safety of the people working on the construction site, as well as those living in close proximity to the site, remains of paramount importance to everyone working on the project.