Donnelly fires ‘conspiracy’ maternity hospital

Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly has not ruled out changes to the controversial agreement surrounding the new National Maternity Hospital but has dismissed “conspiracy theories” about its independence.

r Donnelly said the deal, which will see the new hospital built on leased land on the St Vincent’s Hospital campus, will go back to Cabinet in two weeks.

He said there was also no guarantee the state would be able to secure a compulsory purchase order to purchase the land on which it was built, adding that it could take years.

Asked what the reason for the hiatus was and whether issues raised by people concerned about his independence could lead to changes, he said nothing could be decided and “we will listen carefully”.

However, there was strong legal evidence, including from the Attorney General, that the hospital is free to conduct all legal procedures.

“I can say with absolute certainty that it will be independent,” the minister said. “His independence is guaranteed in the operating license with the HSE and, crucially, in the constitution of the hospital. People said we want to own the hospital. We will.”

The land on which it is to be built is leased for 299 years.

“People have said they want all legal services to be allowed, and so do I. It has to happen,” said Mr Donnelly.

He added that “not only have we enshrined the hospital’s independence in law, but we have mandated in its charter that it must provide all the services permitted by law.”

“We have put another level of certainty on top of that. If for any reason the hospital has failed to comply with its legal obligations, the Secretary of Health can step in to ensure this happens,” he said.

When asked about the holding company set up to oversee the hospital, Mr Donnelly insisted there was no “secret” and his constitution had been online for a year.

“It has no religious ethos,” he said. “Your job is to advance healthcare. There is no conspiracy. There never was one.”

St. Vincent’s has become a secular supplier, he added.

Mr Donnelly also dismissed claims that there could be a sell-out through St Vincent’s in the future. “We own the hospital,” he said. Donnelly fires ‘conspiracy’ maternity hospital

Fry Electronics Team

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