Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster has described newly revealed delays and increased costs at the National Children’s Hospital as an utter failure and stated that she has no confidence that further delays will not be measured in years and hundreds of millions.
The Louth TD had sought an update from representatives of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) who were appearing before the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee today.
Teachta Munster said:
“The Oireachtas last heard from the NPHDB in November of last year when they advised the Health Committee that they were working towards a completion date of August 2022.
“I reminded them that at that time the Committee felt this was fanciful, but for them to concede today that the project is now 10 months behind places any reasonable completion deadline beyond reach.
“With a further ‘service activation’ period estimated at nine months, I put it to them that it would be 2024 before the hospital would open. The response I received was this would be a ‘reasonable conclusion’.
“There has been absolutely nothing ‘reasonable’ about the cost or construction timeline of this hospital.
“At that same meeting in November, the NPHDB told the Committee that there were 600 claims totalling €200 million levelled by the contractor against the NPHDB. These figures now stand at 700 claims and €300 million.
“Government urgently need to take a handle on these spiralling costs.
“If an increase in the number of claims by one-sixth can increase the cost by 50%, we really have no idea what the cost of this hospital will be in another three or six months.
“All of these additional claims will also contribute further to increasing legal fees.
“We have been assured of more definitive information regarding the timeline and costs soon upon completion of a departmental review.
“A PwC report was published in April of 2019 made a number of recommendations to the NPHDB, yet costs are still spiralling.
“Problems at the NPHDB seem to be immune to report or review.
“I have genuine concern for what this review will yield in terms of another supposed final cost. It seems certain that it will exceed €2 billion at a minimum.”