Children’s Hospital faces legal pressure to change name

by Mark O'Brien
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The new National Children’s Hospital may be forced to change its name following a legal threat from a US hospital with the same name. The new Children’s Hospital, which will be based at St James’s Hospital was to be called Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

The name was chosen following a nine-month naming process which involved seven roadshows in children’s hospitals and paediatric units across Ireland, involving staff and service users.

But a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona – also called Phoenix Children’s Hospital –has written to Minister for Health, Simon Harris advising the Minister that if the new Children’s Hospital here proceeds with the name Phoenix, they will be “compelled to pursue all available legal remedies”.

The letter, written by Executive Vice President David Higginson and seen by Dublin Gazette, adds that the American hospital has already been confused with the new Irish hospital.

Mr Higginson says: “Despite the fact that our hospitals may be located on different continents, the pediatric healthcare world is small and, indeed, made smaller by the internet.

“The New Children’s Group’s use of our name inevitably will result in confusion, with serious ramifications for both of our organisations and their patients.

“In the global healthcare environment of tomorrow, it will become very easy for the public and consumers to confuse the institutions.

“Even over the last few weeks we have received media inquiries and other troubling feedback regarding the Group’s proposed use of our name.

“It has already become apparent that patients and the public are confusing our two organisations.”

Mr Higginson added that while he congratulated Ireland on an exciting and important project, Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Arizona would “take whatever steps necessary to protect its name, goodwill and integrity”.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Micheal Mac Donncha had previously written to the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board requesting that the new hospital be named after Dr Kathleen Lynn.

The letter was signed by 57 of 63 Dublin City councillors, but the request was rejected by the Children’s Hospital Group, who cited the extensive naming process and noted that Dr Lynn had a hospital ward named after her in Tallaght Hospital.

Mayor Mac Donncha said in a letter to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Arizona: “Dr Lynn was a pioneering medical doctor who worked tirelessly for decades for the health and well-being of the children of Dublin.

“She was a patriot and based in City Hall as Chief Medical Officer of the Irish Citizen Army during the Easter 1916 Rising.We feel that naming the Hospital after Dr Kathleen Lynn would send out a signal that the new Hospital is in the best traditions of Irish medical and social care.”

The Department of Health said: ‘The Minister for Health and the Government’s priority is getting this very important project built and open.

The Minister will carefully consider the name put forward by the Children’s Hospital Group, along with the issues raised and varied views expressed, and will finalise his thinking in the context of bringing this legislation through the Oireachtas in the New Year.

The Minister has received correspondence from the Executive Vice President of Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Arizona in relation to the naming of the new children’s hospital. The Department will be responding directly to Phoenix Children’s Hospital Arizona.’

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