Govt officially opens new wing at The Mater Hospital

20th April, 2023

Nine storey building was built in two years and will cater for an extra 5,000 patients annually including major trauma patients

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly today officially opened a new nine storey building at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital in Dublin.  The new wing comprises 98 new beds, including 16 new intensive care unit beds and a new home for the National Isolation Unit, which is based at the Mater.  


This new building, to be called “The Rock Wing”, has been designed, built and delivered on budget in two years under emergency legislation enacted during the first part of the Covid pandemic. In the early part of the response to Covid-19, the lack of bed capacity, particularly intensive care facilities and appropriate single bedded rooms, was identified as an issue facing many acute hospitals.  


The wing cost approximately €103 million to build and it is estimated that because of the fast-track approach adopted under the emergency legislation, this resulted in a saving of some €40 million for the taxpayer.  


The new building at the Mater will cater for an additional 5,000 patients annually in world class facilities.  All of the rooms are single rooms with ensuite facilities. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister Donnelly performed the official opening at the Mater today (Thursday 20th April 2023).  


Speaking at today’s event, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “I am honoured to officially open the Rock Wing in the Mater Hospital alongside Minister Stephen Donnelly. It took extraordinary commitment and hard work from all involved to produce this state-of-the-art facility in two years.  The new Rock Wing will strengthen the Mater’s position as a centre of healthcare excellence in Ireland and enhance the care provided to patients from all over Ireland.


“Projects like these turn the vision of Sláintecare into reality.  Ultimately, Sláintecare is about four things; making healthcare more affordable, improving access to healthcare, improving patient outcomes and reforming how healthcare is provided with a focus on the community, integration and prevention.  We all know we need to fundamentally change the way we provide healthcare if we are to meet the ever-increasing needs of our growing and ageing population, not to mention the wide array of new treatments becoming available. Investment in healthcare infrastructure, like this new facility, is a big part of achieving what we want to achieve and the budget for new healthcare infrastructure now exceeds €1bn a year.


“The official opening of two major Trauma Centres at the Mater Hospital and Cork University Hospital is also a very important development. They will provide high-end specialist trauma services to the most severely injured patients and act as hubs to the supporting auxiliary Trauma Units, which is the next stage of development for the trauma system.”  


16 of the beds in the new wing are intensive care beds, which greatly enhances the capacity of the Mater Hospital to care for the sickest patients in the country. The facilities for the National Isolation Unit, first developed in 2006 to contain any infectious disease outbreak which may hit the country, have also been replaced with contemporary facilities including 12 isolation respiratory beds and two infectious isolation beds.  


All of these are negative pressure rooms, in order to maintain the highest levels of infection prevention and control. Should a new pandemic emerge, the role of the National Isolation Centre will be crucial and it now has the modern facilities necessary to deal with such a scenario.  


Minister Donnelly said: “Today is a milestone day for our health service and especially the Mater and Cork University Hospitals. The new Rock Wing is an important development both for this hospital and the people it serves. This new wing exemplifies our ambition to deliver quality health infrastructure in a more expedient and dynamic way. The launch of Major Trauma Services at the Mater and Cork is also an important step in ensuring we deliver world-class care for the public. The Centres will save lives and ensure better outcomes for our most severely injured trauma patients into the future.”


CEO of the Mater Hospital, Alan Sharp said: “It is with great pride that we are officially opening the Rock Wing today, named after our late colleague Sr. Margherita Rock, who dedicated her life to caring for others and is a former chairperson of the Mater Hospital Board.  It is a testament to the spirit of partnership, from building contractors, to architects, to planners, to our own staff across the board and the HSE and Dept of Health that we have delivered this new building within two years. I know Sr. Margherita would be very proud today.”


Local TD and Minister for Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery & Reform Paschal Donohoe said: “The opening of the Rock Wing in Mater Misericordiae University Hospital today represents National Development Plan (NDP) delivery in action.  The NDP supports the delivery of economic, social, environmental and cultural projects to improve the everyday lives for the citizens of Ireland, and the additional, world class facilities delivered in the Rock Wing will make a huge difference in the delivery of healthcare for citizens. I would also like to congratulate the Mater Hospital and the Health Service Executive for delivering the project in an efficient time frame and promoting value for money for the citizens of Ireland.”


The 13,500 square metre building which is on the Eccles Street side of the Mater Building will help to future proof the hospital in the event of any new pandemics or infectious diseases outbreak or a new variant of Covid-19.  At the height of the Covid pandemic, around half of all elective work at the hospital had to be postponed.  The new building should help in ring-fencing capacity for the care of all patients in the future. Patients will be treated in the Rock Wing from early May.