Department of Health Announces sites for redevelopment of Coombe and Rotunda Hospitals

Nurse handing newborn baby to mother

Decision welcomed by 2 Maternity Hospitals, Children’s Hospital Group, 3 Children’s Hospitals, CEOs of Dublin Midlands and RCSI Hospital Groups, & CEOs of St James’s & Connolly Hospitals

The Department of Health today has announced the locations for the re-development of the Rotunda and the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospitals.

A review of the proposed sites for the development of maternity hospitals in Dublin was necessary following the Government’s decision to develop the new children’s hospital at the St James’s campus, and the need to develop a maternity hospital on that site.

The decision means that all three Dublin maternity hospitals will at a future stage be located alongside major adult teaching hospitals, following the earlier decision to move the National Maternity Hospital from Holles Street to the campus at St Vincent’s University Hospital.

The Department consulted widely to take account not only of the current attendance patterns at the hospitals but also looked to see how access for patients could be improved. Those consulted included HSE Estates Division, HSE Intelligence, Health and Wellbeing Division, the Clinical Programme for Obstetrics and Gynaecology and the Masters of the two maternity hospitals.

The Department considered a number of potential campus sites for the Rotunda, looking at planning risks, site capacity, demographics and a range of clinical criteria. The review considered the composition of Hospital Groups, and attempted to best align the hospitals within the relevant Hospital Group. Following consideration, the Minister has accepted his Department’s recommendation that the Coombe should relocate to St James’s and the Rotunda should move to the Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown site.

Confirming the decision Minister Varadkar said “While the Rotunda and the Coombe have served Dublin and the country well as standalone hospitals, current best practice is to co-locate maternity hospitals with adult acute hospitals. Both hospitals need significant capital investment, particularly the Rotunda, which is more than a century old in parts.

“Rebuilding these hospitals on new campus sites will be safer for mothers and will ensure access to a full range of specialised services like intensive care, cardiology and other specialties when needed, without necessitating patient transfer. Tri-location with paediatric services further enhances the clinical benefits for the sickest new-born babies for the same reasons. Today’s announcement is clear evidence of the Government’s commitment to improving and modernising maternity care in Ireland. We will now need to examine funding models so that we can deliver the new facilities as early as possible.”

Welcoming the announcement, Dr Sharon Sheehan, Master of the Coombe said “The tri-location model of maternity, paediatric, and adult services, will, I believe, enhance the quality of care provided to women and children across the country, and as such, we fully endorse the development of the new children’s hospital at St James’s, and we welcome the opportunity to be the maternity hospital within this tri-located model.”

Dr Sam Coulter-Smith, Master of the Rotunda Hospital said that “the hospital is delighted to welcome the announcement, noting that co-location of the Rotunda with a significant acute adult partner has been the Rotunda’s strategic ambition for some time. The Master and the Board welcome today’s announcement by the Minister and look forward to development of a new world class Rotunda on a redeveloped Connolly site”.

The tri-location of adult, children’s and maternity services at St James’s will create a campus of healthcare excellence for patients across the age span. Children and young people receiving complex treatment and care, young people transitioning to adult services, as well as the sickest new-borns and mothers, will greatly benefit from providers of these services being on one campus. Improved clinical outcomes for the sickest new-borns, children, young people and mothers will be realised through all three links – children’s-adult, maternity-children’s and maternity-adult.

In a joint statement welcoming today’s announcement, Eilísh Hardiman, CEO, Children’s Hospital Group; Dr Sean Walsh, Interim CEO, Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin; Mona Baker, CEO, Temple Street Children’s University Hospital and David Slevin, CEO, Tallaght Hospital, joined with Dr Susan O’Reilly, CEO of Dublin Midlands Hospital Group; Lorcan Birthistle, CEO, St James’s Hospital; and Dr Sharon Sheehan, Coombe Master said:
“The tri-location of adult, children’s and maternal services on one campus is the best arrangement to meet the health needs of children and young people, from the sickest new-borns to young people with complex or chronic conditions transitioning to adult services. Furthermore, significant depth and breadth of clinical and academic education, research and innovation can be achieved by services being tri-located. This will further improve clinical outcomes for patients and will enhance the campus as a hub for international research and healthcare advances.”

Mr Bill Maher, CEO of the RCSI Hospitals Group and Shona Schneemann, Interim CEO Connolly Hospital noted that: “the location of maternity services on the Connolly site offers enormous benefits for patients, especially for mothers and babies. Our aspiration as the RCSI Group is to become a model of excellence and this decision offers exciting potential for the development of maternity services in the north east.”

John Pollock, Project Director of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, said: “Throughout the process of designing and planning the new children’s hospital on the St James’s Hospital campus, we have been working in the knowledge that a new maternity hospital would also be located on the campus and we welcome today’s confirmation of the Coombe as tri-location partner. The planning application for the new children’s hospital, which will be submitted to An Bord Pleanala in the coming weeks, takes account of maternity hospital requirements for shared services and clinical adjacencies which underpins future efficiencies”.

NOTE FOR EDITORS:
1.The current model in Dublin of stand-alone maternity hospitals is not the norm internationally and KPMG recommended in their 2008 report on maternity services in the Greater Dublin Area that all maternity hospitals should be co-located with adult acute services in order to provide optimal clinical outcomes.
2.Co-location of maternity services with adult services provides mothers with access to a full range of medical and support services should the need arise. Tri-location with paediatric services ensures immediate access on-site to paediatric services when foetal or neonatal surgery is required. The availability of these services helps ensure the delivery of an optimum, safe service, particularly for high risk mothers and babies.
3.Following the Government’s decision in 2012 to locate the new children’s hospital at the St James’s Hospital campus, it was necessary to review the recommendations made in KPMG Report (2008) in relation to the preferred sites for maternity hospitals in Dublin, in order to deliver a tri-located adult acute, paediatric and maternity service at the St James’s campus.
4.As part of the review, the Department, consulted the HSE and examined clinical, access and site criteria. The moves align with Hospital Group formations.
5.Approximately 40% of babies born in Irish hospitals are born at one of the Coombe, Holles St or the Rotunda. The proposed move of the National Maternity Hospital at Holles St to the campus of St Vincent’s University Hospital is progressing. A Design Team is in place and it is anticipated that a planning application will be submitted later this year.
6.A planning application for the new children’s hospital at the St James’s campus will be made within the coming weeks. In submitting the planning application, the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board intends, as a matter of good planning practice, to provide full information on all known future developments for the St James’s campus, including the tri-located maternity hospital. This will enable An Bord Pleanála to consider the children’s hospital planning application in the context of these future plans for the campus. The project brief for the children’s hospital has taken account of maternity hospital requirements in certain shared service areas, underpinning future efficiencies on the tri-located campus.