This Could Be A Catastrophic Mistake

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drfaller

From top: Plans for the new national children’s hospital at St James’s Hospital. Dr Eamonn Faller

There is a decision due to be made tomorrow, Thursday, on whether there will be a public hearing regarding the location of the new national children’s hospital in St James’s Hospital in Dublin.

Further to this…

Dr Eamonn Faller writes:

Dear Oireachtas Committee on Health*

I am writing to request a hearing by your committee on the location of the proposed new national children’s hospital.

I am a doctor and teenage cancer survivor and have outlined my views on the shortcomings of the proposed location of the new children’s hospital in an article published in the Sunday Independent earlier this year:

In response to this article, the board of the new hospital contacted me and asked for a meeting.

I agreed, keen to understand what advantages that St James’s Hospital would give to the children’s hospital that made accessibility, parking, room to expand, increased cost and possibly even the maternity hospital, necessary sacrifices.

I discussed the proposed location with Professor Owen Smith, one of the clinical leads on the project.

I don’t doubt the man’s integrity, but instead of evidence and credible points I got vague arguments about ‘research synergies’ and ‘continuity of care’ coupled with a continued inability to produce a single piece of evidence that this location will improve any child’s outcome.

I asked specifically and was told none existed. I was a haematology patient who may have benefited from this ‘continuity of care’, and I am utterly against locating this hospital on St James’s campus.

The hassle of attending a different hospital for follow-up wasn’t really in the same league as my mother’s anxiety at navigating city centre traffic with a weak and nauseated child undergoing chemotherapy.

What about the inaccessibility?

What about the complete lack of room for expansion?

What about parking?

What about traffic?

What about coastguard helicopters?

What about the 100 years’ worth of our sickest children and most vulnerable families that will have to live with this potentially catastrophic mistake?

And what about the fact that the critically important maternity hospital was not even included in the planning application? This, unlike adult co-location, actually has evidence to point to improved outcomes for children.

I’m not asking for the hospital to be moved to Connolly. I’m asking for something that should have happened from the outset, and may have prevented the mess that this has become.

A public hearing by your committee taking into account the concerns of parents, doctors, nurses, sick children, those from outside the Dublin area, those from inside the Dublin area.

As opposed to what we have, which seems to be a snap decision made by Minister James Reilly with the Troika in town in 2012.

If the location of the hospital is debated, if the evidence is examined and St James’s is then deemed the most suitable site, I’ll be absolutely astonished, but I’ll rest easier and I’ll stop complaining.

The cost of getting this wrong is suboptimal healthcare for children in this country for the next 100 years. Deputies, Senators, if that isn’t worth at least a hearing, I really don’t know what is.

Dr Eamonn Faller is a doctor working with the infectious diseases and HIV service in St James’s Hospital. Originally from Galway, he trained in Trinity College, Dublin, graduating in 2012.

*Deputies Bernard Durkan, Michael Harty, Alan Kelly, Billy Kelleher, Kate O’Connell, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, Louise O’Reilly; Senators Colm Burke, John Dolan, Ronan Mullen, Dr Keith Swanwick,

Pic: New Children’s Hospital

33 thoughts on “This Could Be A Catastrophic Mistake

  1. Fact Checker

    The Mater was deemed the better site except the aesthetic gurus in ABP decided the cityscape of the north inner city was too precious to cope with a large hospital (a bigger stadium a mile away did not appear to cause problems).

    Otherwise continuing this debate at a point where the foundations are actually being poured at the SJH site is deeply tedious.

  2. Smashmouth

    A pizza entrance?!

    Surely that flies in the faces of the anti child obesity brigade

    What next – custard corridors?

  3. JIMMYJAMES

    build it bang in the middle of phoneix park

    access to north & south, near m50

    giant carpark

    90% of joggers don’t run the lesser know roads & paths

    last time most of that grass saw the sole of a shoe was when the pope was there

    round up the deer & send them up to the scalp

    the park has f’all to do with celtic irish history

    sure was it not gifted as a hunting ground originally or somesuch shyte to a westbrit crowd

    1. Innaminna

      I know you’re trying to be funny but it does sound like you may also be serious, and it is to this side of you that I say… you obviously have not spent much time in Phoenix Park for the last few years as you are talking out yer hat. It doesn’t matter what it was used for originally or what the history is, the fact is that it is an amazing amenity for Dublin, the amount of green space and trees does the soul good, and there are ever increasing numbers of public exercising for free from before the crack of dawn (literally), to the point that there are times it is even becoming a bit crowded.

        1. RONANB

          It’s also good for the City from an environmental point of view.Trees create an ecosystem to provide habitat and food for birds and other animals. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and potentially harmful gasses, such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, from the air and release oxygen. One large tree can supply a day’s supply of oxygen for four people. Building the hospital in Phoenix Park will draw more traffic into the park and damage the ecosystem there.

          It may not be your cup of tea, you may see it as just a relic of the empire but it’s usefulness to Dublin is without question. All evidence works against you…..

    2. Sara-Anne

      There already is a small elder care hospital in Phoneix Park. Seems to work for them so could be a very feasible idea for the children’s hospital. I’d leave the deer though. The oldies love seeing them and I think the children would to

  4. Harry Molloy

    I’ve always thought it best in Tallaght. Tonnes of room, just off the new m50, red line Luas, easy to find for the majority not from Dublin.

    However, I did speak to a bunch of doctors who were strongly of the opinion that the ease or the convenience of the location should come a distant second to proximity to other hospital’s and their staff, expertise and resources.

    So I don’t know how I feel

  5. Robert

    I’ve settled on the fact that it’s all down to governance. Good governance isn’t just something that springs out of the ground and given the issues we have with hospitals up and down the country it may be one of the most important factors. The Mater and Jame’s seem to have a fairly clean track record. Connolly on the other hand is a tiny hospital. It would take a long time to build up the personnel in which you could have confidence.

    1. Harry Molloy

      +1

      That’s similar to the kind of answer I got from the docs mentioned above.

      They also said that parents genuinely wouldn’t give a damn about convenience to drive to against best possible quality of care

  6. read twice

    The good doctor Eamonn has lost his free parking space on publicly-owned land.
    Therefore, this isn’t the best site* for the Children’s Hospital.
    QED

    *after the Mater site, which is a better site. Except that the available area at the Mater was such that the new building would have to be tall and ABP wouldn’t have it. Because that’s their opinion.

    1. ahjayzis

      That’s their job. The failure is with the design team.

      By all means argue for a more lax, politically-influenced planning policy in Ireland.

      But be prepared to get laughed out of the room by anyone who knows anything about it.

  7. forfeckssake

    Everyone talks about parking but the hospital needs to accessible by public transport. How is someone without a car who lives outside Dublin going to get to some site out by the M50?

      1. ahjayzis

        Do you think kids make their own way from one hospital to another on public transport when they’re ‘meant to be kept in isolation’?

        Ambulance, babes.

  8. smolach

    you know staff at the other childrens hospital were issued “what has been termed gagging notice” on the days leading up to the approval of James “as the preferred site?” this is not something that we decided once the planning permission was granted was the wrong site, we have said it all along but you might notice the media in this country has a little bias?

  9. William

    Very strong argument for relocation. The more I hear about St James, the more ridiculous it seems. I’m a pessimist though, so I think the logic will just be ignored, and the hospital will just be built on the wrong site, worsening things for sick kids for decades to come.

  10. Tiredofthis

    St James’s is not just imperfect. It’s potentially catastrophic. You can rectify a lot of what’s imperfect about Connolly. The decision was wrong when it was the Mater, it’s worse now. If they had listened at the start, the hospital would be built by now. No planning issues in Connolly. They reckon you’d get everythin built quicker and cheaper in Connolly even now.

  11. Unconvinced

    St James’s is our best hospital with so many centres of excellence on site. It makes total sense to have the childrens’ hospital here for so many reasons. For one, research will be enabled by collaboration between disciplines on the site. Having kids attending excellent research centres regularly can facilitate interdisciplinary research projects to not just treat kids but to eliminate diseases forever.
    Also, some teenagers,while legally kids, are physiologically mature so having a hospital for children on same site as adults allows shared medical services for those kids.
    Dr Faller seems to define what he terms logic through his own childhood experiences. That’s not reasonable or logical. What about the parents that don’t drive who need to access a hospital by train or public transport? James’s is beside Heston and easily accessible to Connolly. The hospital can be a one stop shop for parents. Of course there is room for expansion. It just requires some creativity. And parking is not the be all and end all. Faller simply raises valid considerations about what a hospital needs, but as an argument against the proposal it fails abysmally.

  12. elsieg1968

    Some of you have very obviously never had to journey to and from a children’t hospital, with the person you love the most in the world in pain and white with sickness in the back seat, and you desperately trying to keep a smile on your face. Some of you have never had to stay so close, without leaving one room for days on end. Some of you fail to understand that a hospital’s need for continuity of care and research synergies can exist and should exist, but not at the expense of the patients, their families and – importantly – the staff whose job it is to carry out these processes. Walk in these shoes for a day: picture your journey through traffic, the added stress amongst many far more important ones that reminds you the clamper will surely find your car some hours after the limit has been reached. Picture these niggles creeping into the minds of nurses, who don’t get the luxury of parking, distracting them from your child’s well being because the prospect of a parking fine rears its ugly head. Just think. Is it worth not having a public hearing when you walk in these shoes? This is a building, after all, but the heart of the building is humanity and all the emotions that entails.

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