Dáil Éireann - Volume 520 - 30 May, 2000

Written Answers. - Blood Transfusion Service.

197. Mr. Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health and Children the original estimated cost and opening date of the new headquarters of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service; the current estimated cost and opening date of this centre; the floor space of this centre in comparison with the current Pelican House headquarters; and a detailed breakdown of both cost figures. [14974/00]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): The original estimated project cost for the new headquarters of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service at the completion of the design brief stage in June 1997 was £28.7 million. This projected cost did not take account of additional local authority planning conditions concerning water supply and the disposal of sewage and soil, additional requirements of the Irish Medicines Board involving laboratories and air handling facilities as well as costs associated with inflation in the construction industry. Changes in operational policies and additional equipment requirements also affected costs. As a result of the combination of these factors the projected costs increased to £36.3 million at the construction commencement date of June 1998.

Commercial sensitivity does not allow divulgence of the current estimated project cost because the final account for the construction element of the project is under negotiation with the contractors. However, indications are that the cost is in line with the £36.3 million budget. A breakdown of the estimate is as follows:

Construction Works cost

£25.65 million

Design Team Fees

£3.75 million

Equipping

£5.45 million

Other costs (validation, project management, site staff, etc.)

£1.41 million

The gross floor area of the existing Pelican House building including ancillary related accommodation located off site because of building and site restrictions is 6,616 square metres including plant rooms. The net usable area excluding plant rooms is 6,350 square metres. The gross floor area of the new IBTS headquarters is 10,751 square metres. The net usable area excluding plant rooms is 8,891 square metres.

In comparing the net usable areas of the buildings cognisance must be taken of the inadequacies of the existing building to meet current GMP standards (Good Manufacturing Practice for Medicinal Products – the standards governing medicinal products in the European Community). Pelican House is an altered 1960s office building inherently unsuitable for blood component production due to its unsuitable plan format for current GMP work flow requirements, inadequate floor area, structure, services and finishes. The new IBTS headquarters building is designed and constructed to meet current GMP standards and [234] the requirements of the Irish Medicines Board. As a result, a significant increase in the space currently available for laboratory and GMP facilities is necessary including accommodation for the future provision of PCR testing. Staff accommodation to meet current space standards will also be made available.

The construction of the building was completed in December 1999. Furniture and equipment has since been purchased and installed. The validation of utilities and equipment commenced in January 2000 and is due to be completed in the latter part of June 2000. The transfer from Pelican House will commence some weeks after that. The new centre is expected to be fully operational by 1 September 2000.