Children’s Hospital – Theatre design changes could cause delays in delivering 

by Rose Barrett
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Rose Barrett

BAM, lead contractor on the new national children’s hospital (NCH) was told to stop building work on the ceilings of the new facility’s operating theatres which Sinn Féin spokesperson on health,  David Cullinane, claims could cost millions.

According to the Irish Times, the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) wrote to the contractors BAM, in recent weeks, directing the former to stop works on the ceilings and services installed in 11 of the 22 operating theatres in the NCH.

The NCH has been plagued with delays and issues from the onset, from debate as to the preferred location, to repeated budget over-runs. It is feared that should remedial works be necessitated in several theatres, this could cause another delay to the expected opening of the children’s hospital in March 2024.

Deputy Cullinane told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that he had been informed that should remedial works be required, this could cause up to several months delay and add another €50m to project costs – which currently run at circa €1.7+bn.

The issue was to be raised in the Dáil earlier this week. A Department of Health spokesperson denied the problem would seriously affect the hospital completion deadline. According to the Irish Times, however, the matter of who would pay remediation works would have to be decided.

The SF spokesperson on health asked for the NPHDB to give clarity on when the board were told about the issue, and called for transparency on both the additional costs and delays should a revised design and remedial works be necessitated.

In response, the NPHDB stated the review regarding changes in design was not unusual and amendment orders would be issued, if required, but did point the finger at the contractors BAM, for failing to provide a ‘contract compliant programme’. The issue relates to 11 theatre rooms only out of the 6,000+ rooms at the new centre.

Deputy Neasa Hourigan, Green Party for Dublin Central and party spokesperson on finance and health, stated from a healthcare point of view, this issue was very significant given it related to specialised services;. Change orders, she said,  are not unusual in delivering a medical facility of this magnitude,  and that conversations would be ongoing between the board and the contractors regarding development in global designs. 

Several organisations dealing with children’s health and corrective surgeries were among those criticising any further delays in delivering the NCH next year. Parents of children with scoliosis and spine curvatures spoke about the devastation and pain caused to children awaiting surgical procedures.

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