Tuesday 14 April 2009

Planning sought for private facility at St James’s hospital

Synchrony Healthcare, the private hospital developer, has applied for planning permission for a 196-bed private hospital in the grounds of St James’s Hospital in Dublin.

The firm, which is headed by Fergal Mulchrone, has said the hospital project will go ahead regardless of whether it qualifies for tax breaks from the government. In the budget last Tuesday, Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan announced the abolition of capital allowances for private hospitals, nursing homes and convalescent homes.

Synchrony includes Mulchrone, financier Niall McFadden of Boundary Capital and consultant haematologist Dr Barry White. It has a contract agreement with the Health Service Executive (HSE) to build the private hospital under the government’s co-location scheme.

The original estimated cost of building and equipping the hospital was €300 million, but that is now likely to be in the region of €250 million to €270 million, due to a drop in construction costs.

It is expected to employ 400 people in construction and 545 staff when running at full capacity. Mulchrone said the consortium had held discussions with a number of banks, but extensive negotiations would not begin until planning permission had been secured.

He said the hospital would be built within two-and-a-half to three years of the project getting the go-ahead from planners, irrespective of the government’s decision on tax breaks. While Lenihan said ‘‘transitional arrangements’’ would be made for projects at ‘‘an advanced stage of development’’, it is unclear what projects are defined as being at an advanced stage of development. They will be detailed later in the Finance Bill.

While planning permission for the project could technically be granted within three months, most other co-located hospital developments have been delayed by appeals to An Bord Pleanála.

The planned Synchrony hospital will be eight storeys high and was designed by Moloney O’Beirne Architects in Dublin and the international firm HDR.

The project is being managed by the PM Group, which is also project managing the development of the National Paediatric Hospital. Ramsay Healthcare, an Australian group that owns the Capio hospital group in Britain, will operate the co-located hospital at St James’s.

Sunday Business Post


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