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New Childrens' Hospital

Anyone who got a copy of the Northern Standard this week would have found a centre double page spread telling us all about the new Childrens’ Hospital in Dublin and informing us that construction work has already begun – in other words they have won the victory over what I consider is common sense and that we can now put up with what we get.

However let me make a few comments regarding the massive advertisement.

1. If they have published this or similar publicity in all regional papers and media outlets then they must have money to burn as this type of publicity costs a lot of money, money which we think would have gone a long way to treat a big number of very sick children and children who are waiting for years to get an appointment or to have surgery for a life limiting, if not fatal condition.

2. They claim that the new hospital will bring Temple Street, Crumlin and Tallaght Children Hospitals ‘all under one roof’! Yet they go on to tell us that there will be new Outpatients and Urgent Care Units at Tallaght and Connolly Hospitals. However this new hospital will only cater for the very sick, who need specialist treatment, while all other existing paediatric wards in hospitals will continue to provide for the vast majority of sick children. It will also result in all major resources being poured into the new Hospital leaving scarce and limited resources for all the other hospitals causing problems and poorer quality care.

3. None of the three reasons it gives in the advert for placing the hospital at St. James’s are of any benefit over what would have been available at Connolly, where there is 150 acres approx., where this and a new Maternity Hospital could have been co-located on a spacious site supporting each other and adjoining an existing adult hospital with specialist units. They also plan to build a new Maternity Hospital beside the new Childrens’ at St. James’s, which is beyond belief. Who has the power to attract all this to such a site and why is the patient and the families of patients not being given due consideration. Anyhow it will be quite a few years down the line before the Coombe Hospital is moved to St. James’s.

4. Have a look at the main picture and find the Car Park. We are told there will be parking for 675 cars and you can book in advance. It will be such a maze to get in to the Car Park and the narrow streets surrounding the area will be chock-a-block. When you do get into park the costs will likely be as exorbitant as they are at other Dublin Hospitals. Oh yes – there is ‘unrivalled public transport’ links for staff, medical students and visitors and there are even 3 Dublin Bike Stations. I would bet my shirt that not all staff members will use the public transport, not all visitors will use public transport and what happens if there were to be a bus strike like last week??

5. The advert claims – ‘the new Childrens’ Hospital will provide all the healthcare needs for children living in Dublin City Centre, emergency care for children in the greater Dublin area and specialist care for children from all over Ireland’. Already I can see children on trolleys, children with all sorts of ailments in waiting rooms, not enough beds, not enough staff, as this hospital with 380 beds tries to provide what has been listed above.

6. What will it mean to families in Monaghan? – the vast majority of sick children in Monaghan will still have to get their treatment in Cavan or Drogheda. It will only be a very small percentage of Monaghan children who will be admitted to the New Hospital. However if you live in Louth your child will get specialist and acute care in the new hospital. At the moment 1.8% of the children being treated in the existing Dublin hospitals are from Monaghan. With the new arrangements that figure will be reduced still further. So even though the taxpayers of Monaghan are contributing the same to the new Hospital as people from Louth, Meath and Dublin we are not going to be able to avail of the same level of services as the others. That to me is discrimination and just as bad as the two tiered system that we already have. Will it also be the case that if you have the money and agree to pay for the treatment that you will get it sooner than otherwise?

7. The ‘Rainbow Garden’ is longer than Croke Park’!! Yes - open spaces and beautiful gardens will be terrific for a small number of patients recovering, though I would assess that once a child is capable of enjoying the gardens they will be transferred back to their home hospital, i.e. for us Cavan or Drogheda.

8. I have no doubt but that the new hospital will provide for the specific needs of those needing specialist care and that is a relatively small number of patients, but it also has to provide total care and treatment for all sick children from Dublin. The A & E will be busy. I would hope that the others will not lose out due to lack of resources and impossibility of accessing the hospital and the services offered. For the Medical profession this is a great addition to their effort to improve health services for children but again – these could all have been provided and more had the site for the hospital been selected in a place where there is proper space to accommodate all that is required and added space for future expansion. The fact that youth were consulted and have been part of the design is commendable and that their suggestions have been taken on board laudable but again this could have been done no matter where the hospital was sited and with more space more suggestion could have been included. I would also like to know what consultation took place with parents from Monaghan as to what they would like to see. If you know anyone who was consulted please let me know.