Latest: Board 'totally supportive' of move to St Vincent's site

  • The National Maternity Hospital board re-endorses agreement to move to Vincent's campus
  • Former Master of the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street Dr Peter Boylan has resigned from its executive committee this morning.
  • Last night's meeting of the NMH board re-endorsed the move to the St Vincent's Hospital campus.
  • Chairman Brendan Carr criticised the attitude of "some of the senior people in the board" at the meeting.
  • Health Minister Simon Harris has ruled out issuing a compulsory purchase order for the site.
  • A Government spokesman has insisted the project is "absolutely going ahead".
  • The St Vincent's Healthcare Group (SVHG), controlled by the Sisters of Charity, issued a statement confirming there will be full clinical independence at the new facility and will meet later today.
  • The Government proposes to use legal deals to gaurantee clinical independence.
  • Labour's Health spokesperson says "there has been no legal work done on this at all".

Update 7.50pm: The board of St. Vincent's Healthcare group says it's totally supportive of the relocation of the national maternity hospital to its site.

After a meeting this evening it said that it welcomed the support of the Holles St board and the Health Minister's confirmation that the project would go ahead.

The Boards of both hospitals will now begin working with Simon Harris to complete the governance and legal agreements which will guarantee full clinical independence of the facility

"The Board of St. Vincent's Healthcare Group met today and reviewed the proposed relocation of the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street to a new hospital facility (The National Maternity Hospital at Elm Park DAC) on the SVHG healthcare campus.

"The Board remains totally supportive of the proposed relocation of the NMH to SVHG under the terms of the agreement mediated by Kieran Mulvey. A new maternity hospital is urgently needed. Locating it alongside St. Vincent's acute hospital will provide synergies for both hospitals that will lead to the delivery of modern, world class medical, maternity and neonatal services.

" Every year St. Vincent's provides acute care to over 80,000 women and it is strongly positioned to provide women and infant centred care in support of The National Maternity Hospital at Elm Park, DAC. There is a long and historical supportive clinical relationship between both hospitals.

"The Board welcomed the support of the Board of the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street to the project at its meeting last night when it overwhelmingly re-endorsed its commitment to the agreement mediated by Kieran Mulvey in November last.

"The Board also welcomed the clarity provided by Minister Harris yesterday when he was unequivocal in his statements that the NMH would relocate to SVHG under the terms of the agreement reached between both voluntary hospitals.

"The Board of the two hospitals will now commence the next phase of the project, working with the Minister and his officials in effecting the legal agreements to underpin and secure the clinical and corporate governance structures of The National Maternity Hospital at Elm Park, DAC. These legal agreements will be effected in accordance with all of the provisions contained in the agreement mediated by Kieran Mulvey and endorsed by both hospitals.

"The Board unanimously reconfirmed its commitment that SVHG will continue to serve the people of Ireland by providing world class medical facilities and standards of care. This long tradition sees it hold a special place in Ireland and internationally, as a world class medical facility. The relocation of the NMH, with its strong heritage of excellent care, will add enormously to the rich history and tradition of excellence of both hospitals."

Update 1.50pm: The Taoiseach Enda Kenny says the decision of a member of the board of the National Maternity Hospital to resign is "one for himself".

Mr Kenny's comments come after Dr Peter Boylan announced his resignation saying it was "naive" and "delusional" to think there would not be religious influence from the Sisters of Charity.

Speaking to reporters in Dublin this lunchtime, Mr Kenny insists the Government will go ahead with building the National Maternity Hospital on the St Vincent's site.

The Taoiseach said: "What we want to do there is to put in place a legally waterproof situation where it will be perfectly clear for everybody that what's at stake here are proper world-class facilities for expectant mothers and for pregnant women.

"If issues arise that need hospital treatment they will be on the campus of St Vincent's."

Update 11.15am: The Minister for Health Simon Harris has once again called for "cool heads" amid the latest controversy surrounding the National Maternity Hospital.

Dr Peter Boylan today announced he is resigning from the Hospital's Executive Committee with immediate effect.

The Health Minister says providing a daily commentary on the issue does not achieve that.

Mr Harris said: "Dr Boylan is a very respected doctor who has made a huge contribution and I'm sure will continue to do so for the health of women in this country.

"He has made his decision, I respect that decision, but I also note the overwhelming decision of the board."

The board of the St Vincent's Healthcare Group is due to meet this evening.

Update 11.15am: Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin has said it is "hugely disappointing" that Dr Peter Boylan has resigned from its executive committee of the National Maternity Hospital.

Speaking on Today with Sean O Rourke he said: “Mr Boylan was told his responsibility was to the board and not the citizens of Ireland - the women who will use this facility.”

Mr Howlin said "I think we have to migrate to a different world. It's not going to be a big bang.

“The controversy over the NMH that has ignited will start that debate. We should go with a rational expectation that state-funded institutions that are 100% funded by the taxpayer, that are staffed by people who are 100% paid by taxpayer should be owned and controlled by the taxpayer."

Deputy Howlin said Ireland's health systems are democratically funded and controlled and they should not be subject to any ethos.

He said he would like to see a settlement made that is reasonable to all parties.

"I would like to see an agreement made with the Sisters of Charity to hand over the land, obviously for financial consideration, also taking into account the redress board monies due,” he said.

“I think a settlement that would be reasonable to all parties that would put this whole issue of democratic control beyond doubt."

He said that certainty is needed before the Dáil will vote to allocate €300m for this facility.

Mr Howlin also gave his reaction to the Lord Mayor's comments that last night's meeting was held in a very “bullying and intimidating way” and that contempt was shown towards him.

"I spoke to the Lord Mayor as I was concerned about what was said. Brendan Carr has a very good track record,” said Mr Howlin.

“He found last night to be an intimidating atmosphere. That is worrying."

Dr Peter Boylan


Update 10.31am: Leading obstetrician Peter Boylan has resigned over a controversial deal to give the Sisters of Charity religious order ultimate ownership of the country's new National Maternity Hospital.

The respected medic, a former Master at Holles Street in Dublin, revealed his decision to stand down from the board of the current National Maternity Hospital amid a bitter dispute over the ownership and governance of the new €300m facility.

The hospital is planned for a site on valuable land owned by the Sisters of Charity at St Vincent's Hospital in the south of the city.

The order of nuns is due to be the ultimate owner of the fully state-funded facility under a complex arrangement between the current National Maternity Hospital and St Vincent's Hospital Group (SVHG).

Dr Boylan, who initially rejected calls to resign, told Pat Kenny on Newstalk that the deal was "a scandal".

"I think it's a scandal that in 2017 that the state is going to gift to a religious organisation a National Maternity Hospital, of all things," he said.

"I really do not think that's acceptable.

"My view is shared by an enormous number of people in the country."

Concerns about nuns' involvement in the ownership of the state-of-the-art facility centre on whether their religious ethos will have any sway over clinical care and specifically if women will be able to have terminations if their life is at risk, IVF treatment, sterilisation or contraceptive care.

Ambiguity deepened when Bishop Kevin Doran said the Sisters would have to obey church law as owners, regardless of how the facility is funded, and that governance rests with the Pope.

Assurances were made publicly this week by SVHG that the Catholic Church will not decide on the care of mothers and babies at the new hospital.

The terms of the deal on the new hospital, which was brokered with the Sisters of Charity last November, were supposed to be confidential.

SVHG chairman James Menton described some of the concerns as "continued misinformation and untruthful allegations".

Close to 100,000 people have signed an online petition opposing any role or ownership for the nuns.

There will be nine people on the board of the new hospital - four nominated by SVHG, which is owned by the Sisters of Charity, four by the current National Maternity Hospital, including the Master, and it will be chaired by an international expert in obstetrics and gynaecology.

According to agreement between the current National Maternity Hospital and St Vincent's Hospital Group the chairman will be chosen "from a list of candidates drawn up by SVHG and the NMH Trust.

"They will be assessed by a Selection Committee, chaired by the SVHG Clinical Director, and the other members will include the SVHG CEO and a representative from the NMH Trust."

Dr Boylan said: "The whole structure is flawed."

It is understood the nuns were not asked to sell the site to the State.

A decision on a planning application on the new hospital is due in August or September.

Update 9.18am: Dr Peter Boylan says he's resigning from the Executive Committee of the National Maternity Hospital with immediate effect.

The former Master of Holles Street says most members of the board want a new hospital so much that they have been blinded to the long-term consequences for the care of women in the future.

"It is the new and the next Master of National Maternity Hospital who will have to pick up the pieces," he told the Pat Kenny show on Newstalk FM.

Dr Boylan, a former Master at Holles Street in Dublin, was previously asked to step down from his role on the board by deputy chairman Nicholas Kearns via text message last Sunday.

Dr Boylan had objected to plans to give ultimate ownership of a new taxpayer-funded €300m National Maternity Hospital to the Sisters of Charity religious order.

Update 7.39am: Lord Major of Dublin and chairman of the Board of Holles Street Hospital Brendan Carr has said that last night’s meeting was conducted in “a very intimidatory and bullying way”.

Last night, the Board passed a motion re-endorsing the national maternity hospital's move to the St Vincent's Hospital campus, despite public concerns.

The Lord Major voted against the motion.

“I thought the attitude of some of the senior people in the board last night towards the very real concerns that the public have was astonishing – that there was no consideration whatsoever given to the many concerns that have been raised in the media over the last number of days,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme.

“I think it was done in a very intimidatory and bullying way, and that’s my opinion.”

Earlier:

The future of the new National Maternity Hospital will be discussed at a meeting of the St Vincent's Hospital Group today.

The controversial move, agreed between Holles St and St Vincent’s last November, was put in jeopardy this week when the board of the healthcare group, which is controlled by the Sisters of Charity, said it was reviewing the plan.

Separately, the Holles Street board finished a lengthy meeting last night by reaffirming its commitment to the deal.

Under the current plans Holles Street will relocate to a site beside the existing St Vincent's hospital in Elm Park in Dublin.

However one board member says he still has major concerns.

Micheál Mac Donncha voted against the move last night.

"Why should ownership be ceded to Sisters of Charity? There's no valid reason," he said.

"This is going to be a publically-funded building of a new hospital, a new National Maternity Hospital, and it should be in public hands, it should be publically accountable, and above all accountable to the women of Ireland, for whom this is a major necessity."


 

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