Board to be ques­tioned about ¤1.7bn hos­pi­tal

The Irish Times - - Home News - MARTIN WALL

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.

‘Very dis­ap­pointed’

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.

Ad­di­tional costs

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.

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