Dublin North West TD Róisín Shortall described yesterday’s appearance of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NHPDB) before the Joint Health Committee as deeply unsatisfactory, with serious questions remaining about escalating costs and delays to the National Children’s Hospital project.
The Social Democrats spokesperson for Health was commenting after it was revealed that the cost of the new Children’s Hospital is set to rise to over €1.43bn and it is unlikely to be ready to open until 2024.
The new hospital, which is being built on the campus of St James’s Hospital, was originally planned to be completed by 2014.
The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDP) overseeing the project is involved in a long-running dispute with the hospital’s construction company, BAM.
Deputy Shortall said it was “disappointing” to hear in the boards opening statement that there have been hundreds of claims for hundreds of millions of euro in relation to this development.
“What was particularly frustrating,” Deputy Shortall said.
“Was the inability of NHPDB to give us a working assumption of both the estimated completion date and estimated total cost of the hospital project.
“Given the evidence we have heard here today, it is not credible for the board to talk about working towards the original completion date.
“More than nine months of progress has been lost this year alone and who knows what else is going to hold this project up.
“It is concerning that NHPDB cannot provide details of expected cost overruns or a breakdown of the legal fees contained in the €1.433 billion estimate for the project.
“The board said today it will not be in a position to provide an update on the costs and timeline of the National Children’s Hospital project until the first quarter of 2021.
“We need to bring NHPDB before the Health Committee again in January to answer pre-set questions that the public and taxpayer are entitled to.
“It is highly unsatisfactory that that board was not able to answer our questions today and it is not an acceptable way for a public body to operate.”