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Calls for Sisters of Charity to detail exactly what procedures will be possible at new maternity hospital

AIMS Ireland has said the new hospital should be free from any religious ethos.

Updated 1.50pm

THE SISTERS OF Charity must clarify exactly what will and won’t be possible at the new maternity hospital if it is built on the St Vincent’s Hospital site, said a charitable group that campaigns for improvements to maternity services.

AIMS Ireland said the new hospital should be free from any religious ethos, adding there needs to be a complete separation of State maternity services and the Church.

The chair of AIMS, Krysia Lynch today called on the religious order to tell the public what will and won’t be allowed at the hospital.

“We want definitive answers to the following questions from the owners… if the Eighth [Amendment] is repealed and abortion legalised, will this medical procedure be carried out on the Elm Park site?

“If a woman wishes to have a medical sterilisation through choice, can that procedure be carried out on the Elm Park site under the current agreement? Will IVF and other advanced medical fertilisation therapies take place on the site under the current agreement? In short, what will and will not be vetoed at this hospital?” she said.

Mired in controversy  

The decision to relocate the National Maternity Hospital has been mired in controversy since it was revealed that the Sisters of Charity, the principal shareholder in the St Vincent’s Hospital Group, would be given ownership of the hospital in return for providing the site.

The board of St Vincent’s Hospital Group yesterday reaffirmed its support of the plans to build the the new hospital on the Elm Park site. Meanwhile Dr Peter Boylan resigned from the Holles Street hospital board as the row over the control of the hospital deepens.

Lynch said her group had been inundated with concerns from members of the public in the last number of days as the dispute rages on.

File Photo Sisters of Charity to be given new National Maternity Hospital Pictured (LtoR) Chief Operating Officer Kay Connolly , Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and Dr Rhona Mahony Master, National Maternity Hospital looking at a model of St Vincents University Hospital Source: Sam Boal

Until the Minister for Health Simon Harris has clarity from the owners of the hospital as to what procedures can be carried out at the hospital, he cannot be expected to put a cent of public money towards funding it, said Lynch.

She went on to say that the Sisters of Charity can take “the heat” out of the current situation very quickly by providing the answers to the above questions and by publishing the ethos they are duty bound to impose on the new national maternity hospital.

“If there is nothing to hide there should be no issue in making a statement” she added

‘Confidence is gone’

Sinn Féin Councillor, Mícheál MacDonncha, who sits on the current board of the National Maternity Hospital and who voted against the affirmation of the plans, said any confidence he had in the agreement is gone.

He said a succession of statements from religious figures fail to guarantee clinical independence at the hospital and means the project must not go ahead, in his opinion.

Both Lynch and MacDonncha said the hospital must “absolutely not go ahead” until the ownership issue is dealt with.

Lynch said the former master of the Coombe Dr Chris Fitzpatrick is 100% behind their calls for the Sisters of Charity to intervene and shine some light on what procedures they are willing to allow take place in the proposed hospital.

Dr Fitzpatrick has resigned from the project board of the new national maternity hospital in support of Dr Boylan.

Resignation 

He was part of the HSE project board on obstetrics and gynaecology for the new hospital, but speaking on RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke show today, he said he felt that he had to resign.

I felt that I had no other option.

“I registered my concerns on this issue a year ago – my concerns were around ownership and control. My viewpoint is that the hospital board should control its own hospital.”

Dr Fitzpatrick added that he didn’t believe the row should slow down the building of the new hospital.

It’s essential that the hospital collocates on St Vincent’s Hospital site. The relationship between both hospitals has a national significance. But this will be the first maternity hospital built in Ireland this century. There must be a separation between church and medicine – particularly when it comes to female reproductive health.

“I would have found it difficult to operate with independence under the board as it is proposed. They way it is planned is not the way to appoint a board.

“There is sufficient ambiguity, sufficient division, to create a problem.”

Fitzpatrick added that he had concerns about whether or not medical procedures would be carried out if the hospital’s board contains members of religious orders or other hospitals.

I believe that having a board that is constituted like this is planned is like a poor coalition cabinet.

“What will happen down the line is that there will be changes in obstetric and gynecological practices and I would not have confidence that services that have to be provided in the state, might not be performed.”

Additional reporting Christina Finn

Read: Ex-Holles Street master resigns from board in maternity hospital row

Read: St Vincent’s board remains ‘totally supportive’ of plans for new National Maternity Hospital

 

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