Thursday, 8 November 2012

Ceisteanna (47)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

47. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if in the determination of the location for the new children's hospital he will have particular regard to the unsuitability of the previously preferred location on planning grounds and that there was general agreement on its unsuitability on the grounds of traffic congestion and parking; if he will ensure that the new location will have regard to this issue and that the soon to be chosen site will represent the easiest possible access from all parts and that such access is measured in time of peak traffic times; if he will further ensure that the need to easy and rapid access for children in need of urgent treatment is strictly observed, that the concerns of the parents of sick children are borne in mind and that preparatory expenditure to date does not become a determining factor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48920/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Following the refusal of planning permission by An Bord Pleanála of planning permission for the new children's hospital on the Mater site, I established a Review Group chaired by Dr Frank Dolphin (the Dolphin Group) to advise on next steps. Their report was presented to me on 8 June last.

On Tuesday, I announced the Government’s decision to develop the new children’s hospital at the campus of St James’s Hospital in Dublin. In identifying the new site, the Government has carefully considered the report of the Dolphin Group along with detailed supplementary information on cost, time and planning which was subsequently sought from those members of the Group with the relevant technical expertise.

This decision has been made in the best interests of children, with clinical considerations being of paramount importance. It is essential that the new children’s hospital can deliver best clinical outcomes for our children. Co-location with an adult hospital has been deemed essential by the Dolphin report, and by all previous reports on this issue, while tri-location with a maternity hospital is optimal. Co-location, and ultimately tri-location with a maternity hospital, on the St James's campus will support the provision of excellence in clinical care that our children deserve.

Despite the fact that access issues were a dominant feature of previous discussions around the Mater site, An Bord Pleanala did not cite difficulty of access to, or lack of parking at, the site as reasons for refusal. The Dolphin Report notes that St James’s has “excellent public transport services” with four bus services, a Luas stop on campus and two others adjacent. Data provided by the National Ambulance Service does not indicate any significant difference in national ambulance driving times overall to each of the location options. A higher percentage of children in Dublin live within a 10 km radius of St James than live within 10 km of any other potential site. It is recognised that most of the children who will attend this hospital will arrive by car. Dublin City Council has indicated to St James that the campus can accommodate about 2,000 spaces in total.

I intend to move quickly now to put in place all the necessary structures and governance arrangements to enable the delivery of this project as quickly as possible and to the highest quality. This Government regards the building of the new children’s hospital as a key priority and no effort will be spared in expediting its completion.