The new National Maternity Hospital (NMH) won’t be built until at least 2028 due to concerns about its independence to provide full service to women, it emerged.
The phrase ‘clinically appropriate’, which appears in several documents in the agreement between the State and St Vincent’s Healthcare Group to build the hospital on the campus of St Vincent’s Hospital Dublin, continues to cause confusion.
Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly, NMH senior physicians and HSE legal advisers all appeared before the Oireachtas Health Committee yesterday to allay fears that it will not be fully independent due to a religious heritage to provide all care services permitted by law.
After the committee’s chairman, Sean Crowe, asked for a delay to call in more witnesses, including the directors of St Vincent’s Holdings, who will oversee the hospital, the government is now under pressure not to sign the deal at next week’s cabinet meeting to sign.
The Indo Daily: Oh holy mess! The Vatican, St. Vincent and the new National Maternity Hospital
“The new hospital will be fully independent clinically, operationally and financially,” Mr Donnelly told the committee. “It will have its own constitution and license to operate.
“All procedures currently being performed at Holles Street will be provided, including abortions, tubal ligations and gender-affirming procedures.”
However, members of the committee urged him to elaborate on the inclusion of the phrase “clinically appropriate,” which some critics continue to see as potentially limiting benefits.
Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall, Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan and Senator Alice Mary Higgins called for it to be removed or replaced with a more clearly defined word form.
The Minister said this was inserted by the HSE to demarcate the hospital for maternity related care. However, he acknowledged that dermatology and other services that had been relocated from St Vincent’s Hospital due to the new construction would be carried out in the new hospital.
He accepted that the term was “problematic” and offered to write to the committee explaining its purpose, although the legal meaning of this was questioned by members.
Holles Street’s midwife, Dr. Mary Higgins said she sees the inclusion of the phrase as a form of “future-proofing” so that processes that are yet to become operational could be permitted in the years and decades to come.
When asked about a likely timetable for the hospital, the minister said planning permission and design are in place, while Mary Brosnan, the director of nursing at Holles Street, said it would be 2028 at the earliest.
When asked about ownership of the new hospital, which will cost up to 1 billion euros and will be owned by the state on one of the st years.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said yesterday that this is effective ownership.
Ita Sullivan, of the HSE’s legal advisers, told the committee the only constitution applicable to the hospital is that of the operating company NMH Dac, which has no religious ethos.
The former head of the NMH, Dr. Rhona Mahony said she was satisfied there were “layers of protection” in place to ensure there was no religious influence on the operations of the new hospital and that the agreement meant the new hospital would say “a complete goodbye to the Church” .
The committee will honor former NMH Master Dr. invite Peter Boylan, a critic of the deal, to a hearing today.
He has called for the publication of the correspondence between the Vatican and the Sisters of Charity to see if the terms of their surrender apply.
The minister said yesterday he had not seen any of this correspondence.
A spokeswoman for St. Vincent’s Healthcare said it was a congregational matter.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/troubled-maternity-hospital-not-expected-until-2028-at-the-very-earliest-41641439.html Disrupted maternity hospital not expected until 2028 at the earliest