17th June 2016
Cllr Jennifer Whitmore has expressed concerns regarding the impact that the location of the new National Children’s Hospital (NCH) will have on the provision of emergency services for the children of Wicklow, including the downgrading of Tallaght paediatrics A&E to that of an Urgent Care Centre for children.
The proposed National Children’s Hospital, which is to be built in St. James’ Hospital in Dublin City Centre, has recently been granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanala. This hospital will bring all three children hospitals currently operating in Dublin under one roof.
Whitmore said: ‘While I welcome the rationalisation of the three hospitals and recognise that the aim for the National Children’s Hospital is to become a centre of excellence, I do have some serious concerns about the impact this will have on children from Wicklow accessing emergency healthcare.
“It is proposed that the new city centre hospital will become the emergency hospital for the children of Wicklow. Tallaght Hospital will become an “Urgent Care” facility, dealing only with non-emergency cases. It will not open overnight and will only have a six observation beds available for daytime use. All ambulances taking children from Wicklow will be taken into the centre of the city to St. James. My biggest fear with this is that heavy city centre traffic will make it very difficult for quick access into the hospital.”
“I also believe that the site at St. James is wrong for a number of other reasons, including no approved maternity co-location, parking issues, inability to take rescue helicopters and restricted room for future expansion. However, there is an alternative site available for use for the Children Hospital – at Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown. This site is a 145 acre greenfield site and is accessed via the M50. The argument for the site at James is that co-location with an adult hospital is necessary. However, I have not seen evidence to support this is all the reports I have read on the issue and I don’t believe there has been sufficient debate on the matter.”
“I am not alone in my concerns. A number of parents of very sick children in the Greystones area have contacted me about this. They are, understandably, very worried about what this means for their children – some of whom have very serious medical needs. I think that the powers that be need to listen to these parents. In fact, a recent Red C poll found that 73% of people across the country did not believe that St. James was the correct site for the new hospital.”
“I know this project has been in the pipeline for many years, and that some people believe that we should just go ahead and build it – that no site is perfect, and that we just need to get on with the job. However, I believe that we will only get one chance to get this right. This is our National Children’s Hospital. It is a 700+ million euro project. And I believe that its not too late to make the correct decision.”