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St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group rejects calls to sell or give up ownership of National Maternity Hospital site

SVHG says retaining ownership will allow it deliver “integrated patient care”.

The site at St. Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin.
The site at St. Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin.

ST VINCENT’S HEALTHCARE Group (SVHG) has said it should retain ownership of the site on which the new National Maternity Hospital is to be built.

The healthcare group also operates St. Vincent’s Private Hospital on an adjoining site and says that retaining ownership of the NMH site would allow “the delivery of integrated patient care”. 

The statement comes ahead of a Dáil debate tomorrow on the ownership of the hospital and the site on which it will sit. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said in the Dáil this afternoon that “ownership is a key issue” but that he does not believe that hospital governance “will be influenced by any religious organisation”.

SVHG released a statement this afternoon in which it said that “for the avoidance of doubt” the new NMH “will be clinically independent”. 

It added: 

  • There will be no religious or Vatican influence.
  • All medical procedures, in accordance with the laws of the land, are available in SVHG hospitals, including pregnancy termination, tubal ligation and gender reassignment procedures.
  • The state’s interests are protected through the Minister of Health’s ‘Golden Share’, detailed legal agreements and HSE service level agreements.
  • For the delivery of integrated patient care on the Elm Park Campus, SVHG must retain ownership of the site.

SVHG also published a number of briefing documents on its website this afternoon which included letters of correspondence between the group and the Department of Health from May 2017. 

The land on which the NMH is to be built was owned by religious order the Sisters of Charity, which also founded St. Vincent’s University Hospital almost 200 years ago. 

In 2017, the order announced that they would transfer their shares to a newly formed company with charitable status called St. Vincent’s Holdings (CLG).

The decision effectively saw the order giving up its ownership of the land on which the NMH was to be built.

Despite this, the ownership issue has returned in recent weeks with politicians from various parties calling for the State to own the land as well as the hospital. 

Speaking over the weekend, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar suggested that a new location for the hospital may be needed to resolve the ongoing issues. He also suggested that the State could buy they site.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Labour leader Alan Kelly TD said the government should set a timeline for a resolution of the dispute before considering buying the land via a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO).

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SVHG said today however that it should retain ownership the site, which has been previously valued at €200 million. 

The group says the new NMH building will be owned by the State forever but that it will continue to own the land and lease it back to the State for an initial period of 99 years. 

“St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group must retain ownership of the land for clinical, governance and operational reasons including the provision of a safe, integrated system of care for patients between hospitals,” SVHG said this afternoon. 

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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