Galway families who must travel to Dublin to seek treatment for their sick children would benefit most if the proposed national children’s hospital was constructed at the site of the Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown.
That’s according to Oranmore native Dr John McDermott, Consultant Endocrinologist at the hospital, which has emerged as one of the frontrunners for the planned development.
Cabinet members are expected to make a decision on the final location for the long-awaited hospital in the coming weeks, in light of recommendations made to the Minister of Health Dr James Reilly by the Review Group on the National Children’s Hospital in June.
The review group was established following An Bord Pleanála’s refusal to grant planning permission for the development of the children’s hospital at the Mater Hospital in Dublin 7 in February, which the planning body said would be “contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development” of the city centre site.
Connolly Hospital has since emerged as one of the most favourable locations for the new hospital.
Speaking to the Galway Independent this week, Dr McDermott said access to the hospital for families coming from the West in particular is unmatched.
“I drive from Oranmore to Dublin frequently when I get to go West and it’s literally less than two hours door to door. There’s only two sets of traffic lights between Oranmore and the front door of Connolly Hospital. The motorway goes all the way up, when you hit the M50 you just turn left. It’s one exit down and you’re straight in,” he said.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that families cite travel times as one of the worst aspects of seeking specialised hospital treatment for their children but Dr McDermott said there is easy access to Connolly Hospital for those coming from outside Dublin, as well as those in the city.
“Connolly Hospital is located to the west side of Dublin, right beside the M50, which is perfect, as the new National Children’s Hospital has to act as a tertiary hospital for the entire country but also a secondary care hospital for the children in Dublin,” he said.
Dr McDermott, who has worked at Connolly Hospital for five years, also said that, at approximately 150 acres, the hospital site is the largest co-located site bidding for the national children’s hospital development, which makes it “the only one very well future-proofed for expansion if there are other buildings needed”.
Citing global research that suggests that sick children prefer low-rise buildings interspersed with green field spaces, Dr McDermott said that Connolly not only provides this, but would also be the most cost effective development. The project is expected to cost €424 million, significantly cheaper than other co-located developments. The Mater development would cost in the region of €477 million.
The proposed completion date for the project is 2016 and Dr McDermott suggested that, while other city hospitals bidding for the development could face planning issues, Connolly would not face such problems.
He said he is “very optimistic” that the Health Minister and Cabinet members will take on board the recommendations of the review group and will see the advantages to its bid in the coming weeks.