THE €297m private hospital to be built on the grounds of Dublin's Beaumont Hospital should be ready to receive its first patients by late 2011 or early 2012, developers predicted yesterday.
The co-located hospital , with 170 single rooms, was given the go ahead by an Bord Pleanala yesterday after objections by former TD Joe Higgins were overturned.
Michael Cullen, chief executive of the Beacon Medical Group, which is backing the facility, insisted that while the lending environment has changed in the past year he was still confident of securing the funds to begin "digging in the ground" by the middle of next year.
He said they could not finalise the funding until full planning permission had been granted but that his group was at an advanced stage in discussions with a number of banks.
The co-located facility is part of the Government's controversial plan to build private hospitals on the sites of a number of public hospitals in a bid to free up 1,000 beds for public patients.
The Beaumont campus will have 16 critical-care beds, six operating theatres and be fitted with new-generation diagnostic equipment, Mr Cullen said.
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Brian Cowen yesterday rejected claims by Labour that the controversial plan would share the fate of the PDs and end up being scrapped.
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore suggested in the Dail that the policy was in jeopardy.
Mr Cowen replied that plans were advanced in relation to six of the eight co-located hospital originally envisaged by health chiefs.
Eilish O'Regan and Senan Molony