ICU project is a ‘casualty’ of children’s hospital cost overrun

By Mary Dennehy

THE ICU expansion project at Tallaght University Hospital has become a ‘casualty’ of the children’s hospital cost overrun, a local TD has claimed.

Earlier this month, the HSE published its Capital Plan 2019–2020, which outlines spending of over €2 billion on health projects over the next three years.

Tallaght Hospital 03 compressor

Funding to progress project to construction will be considered in ‘2020’

As reported in The Echo, three projects at Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) are included, two of which are currently under construction – the paediatric urgent care unit and the new Renal Dialysis Unit.

The construction of both of these developments are well underway and are on schedule to be open by the end of 2020.

The third project listed is the expansion of the Critical Care Unit, also known as ICU.

The project has been deemed “vital” considering the hospital is running at 112 per cent occupancy of its critical care capacity.

In recent years, the hospital has been working on a 12-bed ICU extension, with planning permission for the development granted in February 2018.

While the ICU project is included in the HSE Capital Plan, the funding being provided for this expansion is to progress the project to ‘design’ stage.

The Echo asked the HSE for confirmation on when funding would be provided for the build.

According to a HSE spokesperson: “A design team has been appointed and the design team will work through the design stages.

“Funding to progress the project to construction will be considered during the development of future capital plans.”

The HSE confirmed: “Funding to progress the project to construction will be considered in the context of the 2020 Capital Plan and the availability of funding in 2020 and subsequent years.

“The delivery of capital projects is a dynamic process and is subject to the successful completion of the various approval stages.”

When contacted by The Echo, Tallaght University Hospital said that the €13m expansion of the ICU capacity is “vital”.

“Expansion of the ICU capacity at TUH is vital to address current constraints that result in the most vulnerable of patients waiting too long to access intensive care services and the associated patient safety issues,” the hospital said.

“The hospital is currently progressing through the detailed design phase with the aim of publishing a construction tender in January 2020, but this is subject to HSE funding.

“The hospital had hoped that funding would be approved quickly given the extension of the ICU was highlighted as an investment priority for the Government in the National Development Plan 2017–2027 – the hospital is running at 112 per cent occupancy of its critical care capacity.

“Any delay in funding approval would be of grave concern to the hospital.”

According to Dublin South West TD John Lahart (Fianna Fáil), the non-funding of the ICU expansion build at Tallaght is a “consequence” of the cost overrun of the children’s hospital project at St James’s.

“This is a consequence of the overrun of the national children’s hospital project, Deputy Lahart said.

“The Government is saying no project is affected [by the overrun] but it clearly is . . . a casualty is the ICU unit at Tallaght.

“The Government should fess up and say they don’t have the money, instead of spinning.”

Dublin South West TD Colm Brophy (Fine Gael) confirmed that funding with a rolling project is delivered in stages – design, tender and construction.

“The ICU expansion is in the plan and I am fully supportive of the hospital getting funding approved.

“We will keep the momentum going to ensure funding for the tender process is provided as soon as possible.

“The hospital is 100 per cent in need of this [development].”

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