NCH team sent a researcher to Australia on fact-finding mission

The team leading the development of the National Children’s Hospital sent a person to Australia on a fact-finding mission amid concerns about cost issues.

The trip – which cost €4,442 and lasted a week – took in three hospitals in Perth and Brisbane in November 2017, all of which ended up mired in controversy.

They were the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, Brisbane, Fiona Stanley Hospital, Perth, Western Australia and Perth Children’s Hospital.

In the case of the Lady Cilento Hospital, a report commissioned after it was opened found keeping to the timeframe led to the hospital opening despite risks to patients.

Ahead of its opening in 2014 – the hospital cost around €1bn – staff issues such as IT delays, recruitment delays and an infection control concern due to a lack of soap dispensers and hand gel were all noted in an official report.

The Fiona Stanley Hospital was also subject to a parliamentary inquiry after concerns emerged about a number of issues, including workloads and equipment issued.

The other Perth hospital that was visited had faced a three-year delay before finally being opened. This had been due to construction issues, concerns about water contamination and asbestos.

A claim was also lodged by the construction firm that built the hospital.

It claimed the design changed considerably after the contracts were signed.

In January 2018, Ireland’s National Paediatric Hospital nurse director Deirdre Coakley gave a presentation to the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) about the trip.

Official records show the board noting the “informative” feedback from each hospital and expressing appreciation for the “open and honest engagement” with the visiting team.

“The aim of this visit [to Australia] was to look at other major international hospital integration projects that have similarly amalgamated in order to support the approach and decisions relating to the new children’s hospital design, the clinical service design for specific spaces and 39 clinical specialties, the commissioning and safe transition of clinical and non-clinical services,” a spokesperson said.

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