Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to place an immediate halt to works being carried out on the site of the new National Children’s Hospital (NCH) at St James. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the shock announcement by the projects main construction contractor, BAM, made it clear that it was open to opting out of the NCH contract and procuring the work in some other way, if the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board decided to pursue that option:
“The statement by BAM today completely undermines the narrative that has been put out there by the Taoiseach, the Minister for Health and indeed the Minister for Public Expenditure, Pascal Donohoe with respect to the alleged inability to reconsider a possible relocation of the NCH.
They have repeatedly sought to shoot down this option on the basis that the state was locked into contractual obligations.
The statement by BAM today absolutely refutes that and proves that it is indeed possible to stop this madness now and pursue an alternative location.
This would also facilitate what I and my colleagues in the Rural Independent Group called for in our 2017 Dáil Motion; that is, the co-location of a National Children’s Hospital with a new Maternity Hospital.
At the time we made it clear that the failure to do this could not be justified on clinical grounds. This is a golden opportunity to rectify that tragic mistake.
We can still utilise any site preparation work already started at St. James’s Hospital, to develop a satellite Children’s Urgent Care Centre and further adult services.
The Taoiseach and his Ministers must now place the option of re-location firmly back on the political agenda and stop their ridiculous claims that this is impossible; because one thing is now crystal clear and that is that the decision to proceed with the St. James site is now a political decision and not a pre-determined contractual one.” concluded Deputy McGrath.