Plans to relocate Rotunda Hospital’s outpatient services to nearby building are dropped

Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital had been planning a move

Ken Foxe

One of the country’s busiest maternity hospitals has dropped plans for the lease of a 50,000-square-foot building that would have helped ease pressures on its services and reduced infection risks for newborns.

The Rotunda Hospital in Dublin had been planning to move its outpatient services to Parnell House, a newly refurbished six-storey building close to the hospital.

In a briefing to the board, the master of the hospital explained how the Rotunda was facing major issues with capacity and space.

Professor Fergal Malone said the lack of room was directly leading to a restriction of services and was a “causal factor” in infectious outbreaks.

Last year the Rotunda had an outbreak of S. capitis, with eight babies acquiring the infection, which is resistant to multiple antibiotics.

Prof Malone said the move to Parnell House was key to the planned construction of a new critical care wing at the hospital.

He said negotiations were under way with the landlord of Parnell House to make the property suitable for use for patient services.​

Prof Malone also explained the “high clinical risks” behind the proposed move and the immediate requirement to secure new accommodation.

“[He] outlined the major capacity and spatial issues that were impacting and restricting services and were a causal factor in infectious outbreaks,” the minutes of last September’s board meeting stated.

“These high clinical risks have been highlighted and escalated to the HSE/Government for a number of years.”

The planned critical care wing was said to be a five to six-year project, but contingent on outpatient services moving to another location.

The board was told a 20-year lease was being negotiated, with the HSE having signed off on a €16m fit-out and rental costs of €45m over the next two decades.

The meeting was also warned about an expected “significant increase” in spending on energy costs, which made the new development even more important.

Board members heard the Rotunda was “highly energy inefficient” and because it was a listed building, there were “extensive limitations” on what could be done about that.

However, the plan to move to Parnell House has since been dropped, with the hospital now looking at other options.​

A statement from the hospital said: “The Rotunda since December 2020 in collaboration with HSE Estates has been looking at options including Parnell House to facilitate the decant and relocation of OPD [Outpatient Department] service as this is a key enable for progressing approved interim development on the Parnell Square campus.

“The option [to lease Parnell House] is no longer under consideration. The search for an appropriate alternative location is ongoing.”

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