'Badly needed' new children's hospital in Dublin given go-ahead
Planning chiefs have given the green light for a new state-of-the-art children's hospital in Dublin.
Building of the 650 million euro facilities is expected to start soon on the grounds of St James's Hospital in the south inner city.
The new hospital will bring together Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, Temple Street Children's University Hospital and the National Children's Hospital at Tallaght.
It is planned to be opened by 2020.
Eilish Hardiman, chief executive of the new hospital, described the decision by An Bord Pleanala to grant permission for the development as "a watershed day for children, young people and their families".
"We are now firmly on our way to making this long-awaited children's hospital a reality," she said.
"Anyone who deals with paediatric services in Ireland - as a patient, a parent or as a member of staff - fully understands how badly this new facility is needed."
As well as the main hospital buildings in central Dublin, there will also be satellite campuses at Blanchardstown and Tallaght.
The long-awaited development of a new national children's hospital has been mired in controversy for years.
Earlier plans to build it at the site of the Mater Hospital in Dublin were rejected by planning chiefs after objections.
Louis Roden, a parent and long-time campaigner for a new children's hospital, said Thursday's decision was a long time coming.
"For many parents, including myself, this hospital is coming too late for their children to benefit from it but nevertheless, I am delighted that we are now moving forward - and in the right direction," he said.
"It is important that everyone now works together as a matter of urgency and gets behind what will be a fantastic facility.
"Most importantly one that is best positioned to deliver the best clinical outcomes for the children of Ireland."
Caretaker Health Minister Leo Varadkar said: "This is fantastic news for all the children of Ireland - it will produce a state-of-the-art hospital of which everyone can be proud."
Bosses at the three existing children's hospitals in the capital described the go-ahead for the new hospital as "historic and exciting".
"Our staff in the three children's hospitals will be working in a world-class, modern hospital that is custom-built to deliver the best care and treatments available," they said in a joint statement.
"Our doctors, nurses and care professionals have had the opportunity to input into the designs and are delighted that what was a vision and plan is now firmly becoming a reality."
The new hospital will include 380 single in-patient rooms, 42 critical care unit beds and an 18-capacity neonatal critical care unit.
Dr James Reilly, the outgoing children's minister, described the decision as a great day for Ireland.
"This is a great day for all the children of all Ireland. It means that we can look forward to world-class treatment for our children in a world-class environment," he said.
He added: "I look forward with confidence to the future of this facility and to the vital service it will provide."