The Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has heard that Dublin’s National Children’s Hospital is unlikely to be completed before May of 2024.
Speaking at the committee hearing, David Gunning, chair of the National Paediatric Health Development Board, said that the hospital’s “lack of advancement” is because of “under-resourcing on the project by the main contractor”, which he says has been the case since the beginning.
For context, he said that by the end of 2019, the project should have been 22% of the way completed according to prior projections; instead, it was only 8.5% done, with the delay growing “month on month.”
The covid-19 pandemic has delayed things even further – at the start of the virus, the hospital’s construction was 5 months behind schedule. The number has now doubled to 10 months.
Quizzed on when might be the most realistic timeframe for completion, Mr. Gunning answered that May of 2024 was the most likely date.
According to Gunning, the construction contractor doing the work, BAM Building, has issued over €300m in additional claims, despite underperforming and failing to meet its contractual obligations. He says that the NPHDB is withholding 15% of its agreed monthly payments to the company until they meet the requirements that were asked of them.
The National Children’s Hospital is already significantly overbudget after it was projected to cost €987 million and had ballooned to €1.4 billion by December 2018. It is now overbudget by over €1 billion euros, with DCU Professor Paul Davis warning that this could grow to a staggering €2.4 billion ultimately when one includes hidden costs like installing computer systems. The hospital is set to become one of the world’s most expensive. It was originally intended to open in 2014, before being pushed back to 2022. Now the latest date is 2024.