The Government is commissioning an independent review of the escalation in the cost of the new children’s hospital following the escalation of the cost by €450 million to €1,433m since April 2017.
The Department of Health said the review is to determine the adjusted contract sum, the contributory factors and associated responsibilities so that any potential weaknesses are identified and comprehensively and speedily resolved in the interests of the successful completion of the project and the effective management of public funds.
The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board will be required to provide on-going assurance to the HSE, the Department of Health and Government that Phase B of the project is being delivered within budget and timescale.
In the meantime, the Government has approved the investment required to enable the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board to instruct the current contractor for Phase B of the works, which means the Phase B 7-storey above ground works will begin early this year.
The Department said development was also well advanced on the paediatric outpatients and urgent care centres. Works at Connolly were on target for practical completion of the building in Spring 2019 with the opening scheduled for July 2019. Works at Tallaght were underway with a target handover date of July 2020, and the main hospital to be completed in 2022.
Health Minister, Simon Harris said, “While I fully support this project, there is no doubt that the additional costs associated with the project are of great concern and we must have assurance that Phase B of the construction project will be delivered within budget and timescale.”
The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board tendered the children’s hospital contract in 2016 using a two-stage procurement process that allowed construction to start as early as possible.
It said significant additional construction and associated costs since then had led to a higher than originally envisaged overall cost since a business case was submitted to the Government in early 2017.
These included changes in fire regulations, the need to add additional sprinklers following a decision by An Bord Pleanála and additions to the design following consultation with staff.
Of the overall project budget of €1.4 bn, €319m is construction costs, and the balance of €131m, which includes €50m in VAT, relates to costs associated with staff, consultants, planning, design team fees, risk/contingency, and Management Equipment Service.
The Department said independent reviews on the final construction elements of the project had been benchmarked against similar international projects. The new hospital was at the higher end in cost per sq.m but aligned with similar projects.
The hospital and OPD & Urgent Care Centres are expected to have capacity for 31,000 Inpatients (16% on current levels), 34,300 Day Case patients (26% on current levels), 276,000 Outpatient attendances (47% on current levels) and 129,000 ED attendances (7% on current levels)
In the main hospital at St James’s, there will be 380 single rooms all with en-suite bathrooms and a parent’s bed. There will be 93 daycare bays, 22 operating theatres and procedure rooms, and 122 consulting rooms in total. The rooftop rainbow garden is a central feature of the design and it will provide a secure and sheltered environment adjacent to the wards. The planned accommodation will include facilities for inpatients, day care patients, outpatients, operating theatres and emergency care.