Health Minister Must Take Responsibility for NCH Crisis

30 May 2024

Labour’s Alan Kelly TD has called for immediate accountability from the Minister for Health following the revelation that the new National Children’s Hospital (NCH) will not admit patients until end of 2025 at the earliest, despite previously being due for “substantial completion” this October. This disclosure was made to the Dáil’s public spending watchdog, highlighting a project plagued by delays and spiralling costs.

Deputy Kelly said,
“The National Children’s Hospital project has become a national disgrace. We have witnessed an unprecedented 23,283 design changes since the Guarantee Maximum Price was set. How can this be the case? This is not just a cost overrun; it is a catastrophic failure of project management and oversight. I said in 2019 not that would go over €2bn. The Minister for Health must take responsibility for this mess. It is evident that a hands-on approach has been sorely lacking. The project’s original vision of providing world-class healthcare for children has been lost in a sea of mismanagement and inefficiency.

“We are now looking at a total capital and current budget sanctioned for the project reaching €2.24 billion, a staggering increase from the last publicly available estimate of €1.7 billion. This is a clear indicator that the budget is out of control. The taxpayers are the ones bearing the brunt of this mismanagement, and it is absolutely unacceptable. The Minister must explain how these design changes have been allowed to proliferate and why stricter controls have not been in place from the outset.”

“This hospital has turned into a symbol of government failure. The scale of the design changes and the resulting cost overruns highlight a fundamental lack of vision and leadership. Stephen Donnelly must address these issues immediately and take concrete steps to bring this project to a successful and timely completion. The Minister must withdraw what he said in February that none of the €500m extra given to the project would go to the contractor. It’s quite obvious now that much of that will.

“The handling of the National Children’s Hospital project has been absolutely shambolic. It is imperative that the Minister for Health takes full responsibility and implements a robust strategy to rectify these issues. The children of Ireland deserve a state-of-the-art hospital, not an endless saga of delays and financial mismanagement. It is high time for accountability and effective governance. The taxpayers must not be taken for fools any longer.”

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