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St Vincent’s Healthcare Group to review plans for National Maternity Hospital

The development has been mired in controversy this week.

Image: Department of Health

THE BOARD OF the St Vincent’s Healthcare Group plans to review the status of the new National Maternity Hospital project, in light of recent developments.

In a statement, the group said it would review plans to build the new maternity hospital at the St Vincent’s Hospital site, in light of the controversy surrounding the development.

“In view of the controversy and misinformation that has arisen in recent times regarding the project, and the views expressed by the Minister for Health and other members of the Oireachtas, the board of St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group will review the status of the project in light of the current situation,” said Jimmy Menton, Chairperson of St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group.

“Pending this review, the Board does not intend to make any further comment.”

There was strong public opposition to the development this week after it was revealed that it the new maternity hospital would be owned by religious group Sisters of Charity.

Tens of thousands of people signed a petition is protest at the move, calling for the Sisters of Charity to be prevented from becoming owners. A protest was also held at the Department of Health yesterday.

The religious group owes €3 million in pledged redress costs for survivors of institutional abuse.

The board of the new NMH is to be made up of nine directors: four nominated from St Vincent’s Hospital Group, four from the current NMH, and one international expert in obstetrics and gynaecology.

‘No interference’

Yesterday, Health Minister Simon Harris said that there would be no “religious interference” in the running of the new National Maternity Hospital.

He said three key criteria had to be put in place before the hospital progressed beyond the planning stage.

These include “clinical, operational and financial independence, with no question of religious interference”, and that no private entity or religious order can profit in any way.

He said that he had discussed this matter with the HSE Director General and was confident that these would be addressed.

A Department of Health spokesperson said earlier this week that identity and ethos of the current National Maternity Hospital would be retained following the move.

The new company will have clinical and operational independence in the provision of maternity, gynaecology and neonatal services, without religious, ethnic or other distinction, as well as financial and budgetary independence.

This independence will be ensured by special powers held by the Health Minister, the spokesperson said.

The National Maternity Hospital is being moved from Holles Street to St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin 4, with a large development taking place there.

The Sisters of Charity own the land at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin 4 where the new hospital is being built.

The news was first reported by the Times of Ireland last month, and garnered political reaction after being reported by the Irish Times on Tuesday.

‘We badly need it’

Speaking to TheJournal.ie at the Irish Medical Organisation annual meeting, president of the IMO Dr Ann Hogan said that the new hospital was ’badly’ needed.

“The thing is, we badly need it,” she said.

The maternity hospitals, in Dublin in particular, are just bursting at the seams – increasing number of births, increasing complex medical conditions, and we really need a modern 21st century hospital and that’s the most important thing.

Hogan said that governance was the most “important thing” in considerations of the new hospital and that the minister had assured that it would be independent.

“At the end of the day, the funding for what goes on in that hospital is coming out of the public purse and the minister will have the final say,” said Hogan.

With reporting by Órla Ryan

Read: Ex-hospital master to Simon Harris: ‘Ask nuns about their plans for €300m hospital’

Read: Health Minister: ‘I have heard people say that nuns will be running the hospital. Not true’

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