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Final cost of NCH a ‘live discussion’

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said he “fully expects” the contractors building the National Children’s Hospital to complete construction by the end of this year and hand it over to that State for commissioning.

However, he said the date it will be delivered and how much it will ultimately cost is a “live discussion”.

Mr Donnelly said the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, and the contractors, need to be given space to have those talks and that a small percentage of claims by the contractor have been agreed through the mediation process.

“I’m not going to get hung up on whether it’s this week in October or this week in November,” he added.

Mr Donnelly said: “I want to be very clear. We want, and must, get full control of this hospital.

“The contractor has proposed being able to hand this hospital over to the State in the last three months of this year.

“There is a very live discussion between the development board, who are representing all of us, and the contractor. That’s a discussion about two main things, about when and about how much,” he said.

Building work pictured ongoing at the hospital earlier this year

Mr Donnelly added: “We’re all aware, it’s in the public domain, that the contractor had tabled claims for many hundreds of millions and the National Paediatric Board is not accepting that. They’re challenging that and that’s a very live discussion.

“What I can say is this. The contractor has told the development board, who is acting on behalf of every one of us, that they can have this hospital handed over to us in the last three months of this year and I expect – I fully expect – the contractor to make good on their word, to make good on their promises and have that ready.”

Mr Donnelly was speaking at the turning of the sod on a new family accommodation centre that is being constructed across the road from the hospital by the Ronald McDonald House Charities Ireland (RMHC).

The facility, which is due to be completed by autumn of next year, will provide accommodation for 52 families of children who are being treated in the hospital.

The new premises will replace the facility which has been operating at CHI Crumlin for the past 20 years and which currently provides accommodation for 20 families.

The RMHC will pay €10m in capital funding for the project and operate the facility and the HSE will pay the balance of the construction costs.

Cancer

Meanwhile, Mr Donnelly said the claims by the Irish Cancer Society that some radiotherapy equipment is lying idle is due to the shortage of skilled staff to use the machinery.

Mr Donnelly said that there is a global shortage in particular of health and social care professional posts, and the Government was working on a recruitment programme and is increasing college places here to deal with the issue.

“We have been working with the CEO of the HSE on the recruitment front to bring these scarce and highly skilled people into the country to ensure that all the assets we have in terms of therapy and diagnosis are fully utilised, but I want to recognise there is a shortage,” he said.


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