Target opening of children’s hospital in 2023 ‘very challenging’, says HSE

Hitting the 2023 target date for opening the new National Children’s Hospital beside St James’s Hospital in Dublin will be “very challenging”, a senior HSE official has said. HSE chief strategy and planning officer Dean Sullivan told the Oireachtas health committee there would be “significant challenges” making the target opening […]

Hitting the 2023 target date for opening the new National Children’s Hospital beside St James’s Hospital in Dublin will be “very challenging”, a senior HSE official has said.

HSE chief strategy and planning officer Dean Sullivan told the Oireachtas health committee there would be “significant challenges” making the target opening date, citing issues “trailed reasonably well in the public domain”, but he declined to commit on when it would open.

Construction on the hospital, last estimated to cost more than €1.7 billion, was shut down for several months due to the Covid-19 pandemic in a standoff between the project’s building contractors, Bam Ireland, and the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board over who should pay for the cost of Covid-related work stoppages.

The hospital was scheduled to be finished by the end of 2022 and handed over to the State in early 2023. The project had run over budget and behind schedule even before the pandemic.

Mr Sullivan was speaking as State health officials provided an update to the committee on Sláintecare, the 10-year plan, floated in 2017 and backed by all political parties, to reform the State’s health system and remove private healthcare from public hospitals.

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‘Big ask’

He said Covid-19 has materially affected capacity and activity levels in the health service that it would be a “big ask” to make Sláintecare’s proposed targets of reducing waiting times to 10 weeks for being referred from GP to be seen as an outpatient and 12 weeks after that for treatment.

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