Opening of paediatric urgent care centre at Tallaght delayed

By Mary Dennehy

The construction of a Paediatric Outpatient and Urgent Care Centre on the Tallaght University Hospital campus has been hit with delays, with the centre not opening for at least another year.

The urgent care centre on the campus of Tallaght University Hospital, which is currently under construction as part of the new children’s hospital project at St James’s, was due to open in 2020.

Urgent care centre tallaght 1 1

An artist impression of Urgent Care Centre in Tallaght

Last week, the Oireachtas Health Committee was informed of extra running costs and further delays with the national children’s hospital project at St James’s.

Following this news, The Echo contacted Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) to confirm the progress of the urgent care centre at Tallaght – and to confirm that existing children’s services at Tallaght will remain in situ until the opening of the new urgent care centre.

Construction work on the 4,600msq Paediatric Outpatient and Urgent Care Centre at Tallaght commenced in February 2019, and under the contract was originally scheduled to be completed in 2020.

When contacted by The Echo this week, a spokesperson for Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) said: “However, following the Covid-19 restrictions and for other reasons the main contractor (BAM) is now advising that construction will not be complete before September 2021.

“Following substantial completion, it will then be handed over to CHI to open for services after an eight-week period of operational commissioning and equipping.”

The spokesperson added: “Both the NPHDB [National Paediatric Hospital Development Board] and CHI are acutely aware of how urgently the facility is needed in Tallaght, and they are committed to delivering it as quickly as possible on behalf of children, young people and their families.”

A spokesperson for CHI confirmed to The Echo, that the Children’s Hospital at Tallaght will remain fully operational until the urgent care centre is open – when a transitioning of services will commence.

According to CHI, the Tallaght centre will include outpatient clinics and urgent care services for the treatment of ‘minor injury and illness that requires prompt treatment, but is not life-threatening and does not require a visit to the Emergency Department’.

The centre will include a short stay observation unit where children are ‘observed and treated’ for up to six hours before being discharged.

Some children may require onward referral to one of the children’s hospitals at Crumlin or Temple Street, until the new national children’s hospital opens on the St James’s site.

“When fully operational, we expect this new facility [at Tallaght] to provide 17,000 outpatient appointments (General Paediatrics and Orthopaedic clinics) and 25,000 urgent care attendances annually”, the CHI spokesperson said.

“This will contribute to significant reductions in General Paediatric OPD waiting times, as well as the waiting experience for our patients and their families.

“This new facility, together with CHI at Connolly, and the new children’s hospital on the campus shared with St James’s Hospital, will transform how acute paediatric healthcare is delivered to the sickest children in Ireland and how local secondary paediatric care is delivered in the Greater Dublin Area…”

The Echo did ask if the delay at Tallaght was incurring additional costs, but a response to this was not received.

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