Ms Eilísh Hardiman
Chief Executive, Children’s Health Ireland
Children and young people — 18 years and under — comprise one-quarter of Ireland’s population. These young people are a valued and positive asset for Ireland’s future.
Nelson Mandela once said: “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” A critical review of Ireland in this regard is varied.
Paediatrics in Ireland
When looking at acute paediatric services in our hospitals, we have many excellent services, while others require continued development, especially when it comes to providing timely access. Reducing the length of time that children are waiting for review and treatment is currently the highest priority for Children’s Health Ireland.
The ambitious transformation of healthcare requires long-term planning and policy change. The health policy and plan for acute paediatrics are based on the 2016 National Model of Care for Paediatric Healthcare Services. It is in keeping with Sláintecare and will be fully in place within the next decade.
Core principles of care
This model of care stipulates having an integrated network of paediatric services based on two core principles.
The first is that children and young people should be treated as close to their homes as clinically appropriate. The second is that all national and highly specialist acute services are consolidated in one children’s hospital co-located with a large academic adult hospital.
The highest concentration of children is in the eastern region where the rollout of the new model of care for acute paediatrics is well-advanced.
The development of acute paediatric services in regional hospitals is an integral part of this model of care.
An integrated network of services across hospitals is already in place for cancer services and is now being rolled out for Ireland’s trauma services. The same approach is required for acute paediatrics across healthcare services, professional education and paediatric research and innovation.
Facilities for children
Children’s Health Ireland currently provides paediatric services in Crumlin, Temple Street, Tallaght and Blanchardstown. The highest concentration of children is in the eastern region where the rollout of the new model of care for acute paediatrics is well-advanced.
New facilities for outpatient and urgent/emergency care in Blanchardstown and Tallaght provide local and convenient services northwest and southwest of Dublin. Our new children’s hospital building is now over 70% complete and will provide all national and some all-island services for our sickest children.
We welcome continued investments in paediatric services, through our new hospital project and in our integrated network of paediatric services. By doing this, all children will benefit equally, and we can continue to protect and nurture our nation’s children and young people.