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

The National Maternity Hospital project has been mired in controversy in recent weeks.

Updated at 8.45pm

THE CHAIRMAN OF the board of the St Vincent’s Hospital Group has said that any medical procedure that is currently legal in Ireland will be carried out at the new National Maternity Hospital.

James Menton, chairman of SVHG, was responding to comments made by the former Master of the National Maternity Hospital, Dr Peter Boylan around the planned new hospital.

The €300 million new hospital will be built on land owned by the SVHG, next to the current St Vincent’s University Hospital. The religious order the Sisters of Charity are the shareholders of the SVHG.

Boylan questioned whether the National Maternity Hospital would still carry out procedures at odds with a Catholic ethos when it moves to its new location on the grounds of St Vincent’s Hospital in Elm Park in south Dublin.

“That would make the new hospital unique in the world in that it would be the only hospital in the world owned by the Catholic Church and effectively run by a company that is owned by the Catholic Church to allow things like IVF, sterilisation, abortion, gender reassignment surgery etc, etc,” Boylan told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland last week.

In a statement released today, Menton said that suggesting that procedures that are currently available at the NMH will not be available in the new hospital is “entirely false and without foundation”.

“In line with current policy and procedures at SVHG, any medical procedure which is in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Ireland will be carried out at the new hospital,” he said.

When asked to clarify if this meant that specific procedures like IVF treatment would be available at the new hospital, a spokesperson for Menton confirmed that it did.

Menton said that the primary concern of the SVHG board and of the Chartered Trust of the National Maternity Hospital was:

The delivery of a modern maternity and neonatal service that is women and infant centred and which is safe and world-class.

Health Minister Simon Harris welcomed the statements that any medical procedure which is in accordance with the laws of this State will be carried out at the new hospital.

A spokesperson for the minister said that the boards of both SVHG and the current NMH at Holles Street would be meeting this week and would “no doubt review progress to date”.

“Clinical and operational independence”

The spokesperson said Harris hoped to report to Government on hospital at the end of May.

“At that stage he expects to have further details on the legal and other arrangements envisaged and to make this information available publicly,” the spokesperson said.

They said that the hospital was still in early stages with a planning decision not expected until autumn.

Menton repeated statements made by Harris and others over the past week that the new hospital would have “clinical and operational independence”.

Harris has repeatedly insisted that the hospital will be independently run despite being under the ownership of the Sisters of Charity.

Earlier today, Boylan – who sits on the board of the current National Maternity Hospital – said that he will refuse to resign despite being asked to do so.

Last week, the board of SVHG announced that it had plans to review the status of the new hospital in light of the public uproar around the move.

Read: ‘I’m sorry it’s come to this but I did try to warn you’ – Texts between hospital bosses as row deepens

Read: Bishop says new maternity hospital should obey rules of Catholic Church

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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