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Here is the deal reached by St Vincent's and Holles Street over the new National Maternity Hospital

The agreement reached in November between the two hospitals was released today to the public.

File photo of the entrance to St Vincents Hospital in Dublin.
File photo of the entrance to St Vincents Hospital in Dublin.
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

THE ST VINCENT’S Hospital Group will have ‘corporate oversight’ of the new National Maternity Hospital when it moves to its new campus, according to the agreement reached between the two hospitals.

The agreement reached in November between the SVHG and the current National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street has been released to the public.

The agreement between the two hospitals over the provision of the new NMH is in the form of a 25-page report by mediator Kieran Mulvey.

The hospital is to be located at Elm Park alongside St Vincent’s University Hospital on the campus owned by the SVHG.

The agreement states that the SVHG will retain a “corporate unitary oversight of all campus utilities and services”.

The report states that this oversight can be achieved providing the SVHG board with assurances that the NMH will be managed effectively, and that:

The appropriate legal, financial, regulatory and risk assessments are up to date and undertaken in accordance with statutory requirements.

This oversight will be further ensured by adding two directors nominated from the current NMH to the board of the SVHG (as well as the new maternity hospital).

“Clinical independence”

The proposed NMH has been mired in controversy since it emerged that SVHG would take ownership of the hospital.

This stems from the fact that the religious order the Sisters of Charity are the principal shareholders in the SVHG.

The agreement states that the SVHG will be the “sole owner” of the new hospital.

The hospital will be operated as a new company: The National Maternity Hospital at Elm Park DAC (limited by shares).

This ownership will be dependent on the Minister of Health holding a “Golden Share” in the hospital, which will allow its reserved powers, constitution and composition to be protected.

Current Health Minister Simon Harris, as well as the current Master of the NMH at Holles Street Dr Rhona Mahony and others have ensured the new hospital would have “clinical independence”.

This is laid out in the agreement under the heading of “reserved powers”, which ensures:

Clinical and operational independence in the provision of maternity, gynaecology, obstetrics and neonatal services (without religious, ethnic or other distinction) in the hospital at Elm Park, Dublin and the provision of medical, surgical, nursing, midwifery and other health services at Elm Park, Dublin, including strategic planning in relation to the development of such services in the future in accordance with developing best practice.

Independence will be further ensured by the retention of the role of the Mastership model at the hospital.

These “reserved powers” will be protected by the “Golden Share” which ensures they:

…shall not be capable of amendment save with the prior written and unanimous approval of all the Directors of the Board and with the consent of the Minister for Health.

Board of directors

As previously reported, the agreement lays out that the board of directors at the new hospital should be made up of nine directors.

Four will be nominated by the SVHG, four will be nominated by the current NMH, and one will be an independent international expert in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

The report on the agreement states that the “appropriate legal mechanisms” will need to be put in place regarding the structure, objectives, role and powers of the new hospital.

There have been significant developments over the new maternity hospital since the report was first sent to Minister Harris in November.

Over 92,699 people signed an online petition calling for the Sisters of Charity to be “blocked” as sole owners of the new hospital, with protests held last week outside the Department of Health.

Following the public outcry, the SVHG board said that it would be reviewing its role in the future of the project.

The chairman of the SVHG board today released a statement ensuring that any medical procedure that is currently legal in Ireland will be carried out at the new National Maternity Hospital.

Commenting on the release of the agreement today, Harris said the boards of both hospitals would be meeting this week and would review progress to date.

He restated the assurance on clinical independence and said that he intended to report to Government on the status of the project by the end of May.

You can view the full agreement here

Read: Over 70,000 sign petition to prevent Sisters of Charity becoming owners of maternity hospital

Read: St Vincent’s chairman: Any legal medical procedure will be carried out at new maternity hospital

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About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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