WATCH: Board of Holles Street re-endorses national maternity hospital move after 3 hour meeting

Update 9pm: The board of Holles Street hospital has passed a motion re-endorsing the national maternity hospital's move to the St Vincent's Hospital campus.

The decision was made this evening by a majority of board members after a three-and-a-half hour meeting.

"The Board of NMH met this evening and welcomed yesterday’s statement from the SVUH and has re-endorsed its commitment to the agreement mediated by Kieran Mulvey in November last," a statement from the board of National Maternity Hospital reads.

"This agreement provides that the clinical, financial and operational independence of the National Maternity Hospital at Elm Park DAC shall be enshrined in its memorandum and articles of association and all related legal agreements. "

Lord Mayor of Dublin and board Chairperson Brendan Carr disagreed with tonight's decision.

Update 8.45pm: The Board of Holles Street Hospital is meeting this evening to discuss the controversy over the agreement to move the new National Maternity Hospital to St Vincent's.

There have been renewed calls for a compulsory purchase order for the site, to ensure there is no religious influence in the new hospital, which will be owned by nuns.

That has already been ruled out by the Health Minister, Simon Harris, who says St Vincent's Hospital is being unfairly portrayed as 'a convent'.

But Labour's health spokesman Alan Kelly says the Minister has questions to answer:

"The people of Ireand want a hospital that's owned by the people of Ireland," he said.

"The minister need to ensure that the ownership structures that are put in place legally will stand the test of time because we are in a changing Ireland, socially, and he needs to ensure that they will stand the rest of time."

Update 5.30pm: The Government is to go ahead with plans to leave the new national maternity hospital in religious ownership, but will use legal deals to make sure it has full clinical independence.

A Government spokesman this evening insisted the project was "absolutely going ahead" on the St Vincent's site.

Minister Simon Harris has also ruled out a compulsory purchase order to buy the site on which the new facility will be built.

He says the hospital will have full clinical independence - without any additional cost to the public.

"Compulsary purchase is not the ideal solution here in any way, manner or means, because we need to build this national maternity hospital," he said.

"We don't need to be caught up in some potential legal difficulty for a large number of years. We've also got to remember the site is being donated free-of-charge."

Update 4.40pm: Labour's Health spokesperson has said the Health Minister's comments today on the national maternity hospital have raised even more concerns.

Alan Kelly says he wants Simon Harris to answer questions in the Dáil next week.

"It's quite obvious now that there is no legal agreement or firmness in relation to how this hospital is going to be created," he said.

"In fact, I understand there has been no legal work done on this at all. What we have is an agreement-in-principle.

"So now much of the fanfare has worn off and, frankly speaking, the minister has had a very, very bad week and he needs to explain a number of issues.

Update 4pm: The Health Minister has said St Vincent's Hospital is being unfairly portrayed as "a convent" by critics of the new maternity hospital.

Simon Harris is calling for "cool heads" as he looks to tease out any issues surrounding plans for the Sisters of Charity to own the new facility.

He said a compulsory purchase of the site - as called for by Dublin's Lord Mayor - would not be the best way to proceed.

He has also hit out at some critics for their unfair depiction of the way in which St Vincent's is run.

"St Vincent's Hospital is one of our leading hospitals in this country," he said.

"It's a teaching, acute, adult hospital. The way it's been talked about in recent days would suggest that it's a convent. It's not. It's an awful lot more than that.

"I think it's very important that we can understand that it makes sense for the St Vincent's Healthcare Group to want to actually provide the best healthcare possible for their patients, including women who are using our maternity services."

Update 1.02pm: The Lord Mayor of Dublin has called on the Health Minister to step in and issue a compulsory purchase order for the new National Maternity Hospital.

Brendan Carr says it is the best way to make sure the hospital is built on the St Vincent's site, without posing any questions about how it is run.

Earlier, the Minister insisted the new facility would have clinical independence, despite being owned by the Sisters of Charity.

Brendan Carr, who is a member of the board of the current Holles St hospital, said that the State should buy the land from the nuns instead.

"I'm obliged as the First Citizen of Dublin, as the Lord Mayor of Dublin, to raise those concerns with the board," he said

"Everyone is dedicated and committed to having a world-class hospital here for women and children, but it's the Minister himself, the Minister for Health, who could actually CPO the land and take the heat out of this debate.

"And rather than us debating over who's running the hospital, who owns the hospital, we can start debating about how the hospital can actually benefit the people of Ireland."

Update 11.50am:The Health Minister said he is as determined as ever to get the new National Maternity Hospital over the line.

The board is due to meet this evening amid ongoing debate on the location and running of the facility.

Simon Harris is now calling for a period of calm to allow the boards of both hospitals to meet, and said he will be meeting both in the coming weeks.

He also said he will come back to Cabinet and the Oireachtas Health Committee afterwards with updates.

Speaking outside government buildings today, Minister Harris said it's crucial the project goes ahead.

“I don't want to lose this project, it is too important and has been too hard fought for over a long time.

“There is a reason we are locating it on this site, St Vincent’s, it wasn’t plucked from the air.

"Colocation is so important in terms of women who need maternity care so lets’ after we have had significant public debate, the agreement is published, it is there for all to see, and what I am asking people not for is a month.”

Update 8.30am: Dr Rhona Mahony, Master of Holles St, has come out strongly in defence of the agreement to build the new National Maternity Hospital on land that will remain in church ownership.

Controversy has raged in recent days over the fact that the new facility, to be built by the state at a cost of more than €300m, will be built on land belonging to the St Vincent's Healthcare Group, which is owned by the Sisters of Charity.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Dr Mahony insisted the chosen location was the right place for the hospital, saying: “We want people to have access to the wide range of facilities and expertise available at St Vincent’s”.

She dismissed concerns over ownership as a 'storm in a tea cup'.

Her comments follow a statement from the Bishop of Elphin who angered campaigners by claiming Catholic rule will have to be obeyed there.

“It is a storm in a teacup, a side show, a non-issue and we must not get lost in a sideshow of supposition or speculation,” she said. “We must look at the facts.

“The hospitals are clear - there will be operational and clinical independence for the new entity.

“It will not practice according to Catholic or any other religious ethos. The ethos will be clinical excellence and I cannot be clear enough.”

Pushed on whether that would be acceptable to the religious order, she said: “There will be no breach of Catholic ethos as they are separate companies.”

Dr Mahony insisted that a full range of procedures would continue to be available at the new hospital, including sterilisations, IVF, contraception and abortion where necessary to save the life of the mother. She said that the hospital would be able to perform any procedures which might become legal in Ireland in the future.

She further defended the involvement of the St Vincent’s group, saying: “They are making a prime space available on their land for women and children.

“Their statement is unequivocal, the nuns do not want to run this hospital.”

Earlier:The board of the National Maternity Hospital is due to meet this evening, amid ongoing controversy about the facility's future.

Board member Dr Peter Boylan is refusing to step down after he spoke out about concerns about the project's new location and ownership.

The deal in place between Holles Street and St Vincent's Healthcare Group was published last night and the Health Minister said he will reveal more before contracts are signed.

The St. Vincent's Healthcare Group also issued a statement confirming there will be full clinical independence at the facility.

The full details were of the deal were made available online but, according to the Workers Party, the public is being "fobbed off" with the publication.

Councillor Eilis Ryan said publishing the deal does not change its owners.

“I think it is clear that the new Maternity Hospital negotiated hard that clinical independence would be written in stone but I think fundamentally the issue of ownership hasn’t been addressed.

“There are a number of doctors who have said it is really impossible to guarantee clinical independence unless the state has ownership so I think that is still quite worrying.”


 

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