Board to be questioned about ¤1.7bn hospital
The Oireachtas committee on health will this week begin hearings into the major financial over-run at the planned new National Children’s Hospital which is now expected to cost more than ¤1.7 billion.
Separately, the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive are expected to meet this week to finalise terms of reference for an investigation commissioned by the Government into the soaring cost of the new hospital.
This investigation is expected to be carried out by consultants PwC.
On Wednesday, members of the Oireachtas will question representatives of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board about the project.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said before Christmas he had been left “very disappointed” at the spiralling cost of building the new National Children’s Hospital.
Last September, the Government said that the cost of the project was expected to be ¤983 million. However, Mr Varadkar told the Dáil on December 18th, following reports in The Irish Times, that the cost of building the hospital was now expected to reach ¤1.433 billion. He conceded that the cost overrun could actually rise further.
On December 22th, The Irish Times reported that, in a confidential memo drawn up by Minister for Health Simon Harris, the Cabinet had actually been warned that the total hospital costs – including the bill for information technology, new electronic patient records, integrating the three existing paediatric hospitals in Dublin and developing a new children’s research centre – were expected to exceed ¤1.73 billion.
Ministers were also told in the memo that there could be further increases of up to another ¤145 million in the future.
The Harris memo also warned that the bill for running the new National Children’s Hospital on a day-to-day basis when it opens in 2023 was now projected to be ¤40 million higher than originally announced, at ¤366 million annually.