Eminent heart surgeon, Maurice Neligan is now saying that the plan for the National Children’s Hospital is misconceived and mistaken. Once a supporter of the project, Neligan has candidly admitted he was wrong. Writing in the Irish Times, he has this to say:
Crucial decisions were made on limited and selective criteria and without honest debate among those most qualified at home to give advice, and driven by concerns far beyond the welfare of the children.
The National Children’s Hospital was never about the welfare of children or that hoary old shibboleth beloved of bullshitters in Ireland: “best practice”.
It was always about Bertie Ahern bestowing political patronage on selected members of the medical profession, and on his old employers, the Sisters of Mercy, who will be given ownership of this publicly-funded hospital. (Bertie used to be their book-keeper, whence he evolved the inflated claim to be a qualified accountant. Their book-keeper).
The location of the new hospital is entirely unsuitable for transporting sick children. It’s hard to get there by car and you can’t bring a sick child on a tram or bus with all their blankets, teddies and paraphernalia. There’s nowhere on site for the parents to stay. There’s a lot of petty crime in the area. The air quality is bad. It’s noisy. There’s nowhere for the children to walk around and recuperate after their operations.
The government were offered a green-field site at Newlands Cross, on the intersection of two major motorways, and adjacent to Tallaght Hospital. The consortium making the offer would build the new hospital and present it to them at cost.
They refused the offer, and instead set up a task force with instructions to make a cursory examination of the other options, but to recommend the nuns’ site as the best choice. The task force was nothing but a fig-leaf to disguise the nakedly political nature of the decision. As Neligan explains , one of the experts consulted by the Task Force told us that he was not consulted on location and added that Dublin’s three children’s hospitals together are large enough to stand alone. Prof Alan Craft, past president of the Royal College of Paediatrics, said his “extensive consultation” had been a telephone conversation with a member of the Task Force. He had not seen its report nor was he involved in making the decision about the site.
That was the level of research done by Ahern’s task force.
Bertie always looks after his old pals, or maybe the good sisters have something on him. Who knows?
One way or another, the children are the ones who will suffer.
Nice one Bert.
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