Delivery of new national children’s hospital set to be further delayed

The project has been beset by delays and spiralling costs but it was expected that ‘substantial completion’ of the hospital would happen by October 29th

The delivery of the new national children’s hospital (NCH) is set to be further delayed, the Dáil’s public spending watchdog will be told.

The project has been beset by delays – some due to the Covid-19 pandemic – and spiralling costs, but it was expected that “substantial completion” of the hospital would happen by October 29th.

However, the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is to hear on Thursday how that target date will be missed.

David Gunning, the chief officer of the organisation overseeing the project, the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, is to tell TDs that the main contractor, BAM, has “indicated a further delay to the substantial completion date”.

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In his opening statement, Mr Gunning also says: “The primary driver for the cost increase on the project has been the ongoing delay to the completion of the project.

“All possible contractual levers are being applied to secure certainty and the NPHDB continues to engage with BAM to explore mechanisms to deliver programme certainty and the earliest possible substantial completion.”

After the NCH building is substantially completed, it will take several more months to finish fitting out and commissioning meaning it will be sometime in 2025 before children are treated in the new hospital.

The original estimated cost of the project was put at €800 million in 2014, before construction costs were disclosed, by the then Fine Gael-led minority Government, to have risen to €1.433 billion in 2018.

Another €300 million was expected to be spent on the integration and transfer of services from the existing three children’s hospitals in Dublin, including information technology and commissioning costs, bringing the total expenditure to €1.73 billion.

Earlier this year, the Government confirmed that the cost of the national children’s hospital (NCH) had risen again. The total capital and current budget sanctioned for the project is now €2.24 billion.

Included in this are the design build and equipping costs, including satellite centres at Tallaght and Connolly hospitals – which are already open; the cost of building the main hospital beside the St James’s Hospital campus; and a separate €360 million for the integration and transition of services to the NCH.

Mr Gunning will give a progress update on the main site in his opening statement to the PAC.

The external facade, including glazing, is completed and all of the tower cranes have been removed from the site.

He says: “The 380 individual inpatient rooms are approaching final completion with fit out of fixtures, ensuites, sliding doors, joinery and medical equipment progressing.”

Mr Gunning also says that “The specialist equipment that will be built into the hospital prior to substantial completion is being installed.

“This includes the MRIs, CT scanners, X-rays, theatre imaging equipment, CDU washers and sterilisers and automated guided vehicles.”

He adds: “The commissioning of all hospital systems is well advanced.”

The PAC will also be told that construction started on the 52-bedroom Ronald McDonald House, which will offer accommodation to families whose children are being treated in the hospital.

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