Doctors support moving hospital to disputed site
A majority of consultants at the National Maternity Hospital have endorsed plans to relocate the hospital to the site of St Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin.
In a letter to the maternity's hospital's deputy chair Nicholas Kearns, the consultants said that governance agreements with St Vincent's and the Department of Health will give the new €300m hospital "complete clinical autonomy".
They wrote: "The clinical arguments must not be derailed by sensationalist misrepresentation."
The letter, signed by almost all of the hospital's 30 consultants as well as its Master Rhona Mahony and Clinical Director Declan Keane, said the religious order Sisters of Charity - who owns the St Vincent's Hospital Group - will not be involved in the operation of the new maternity hospital.
It aims to defuse the public outcry which has led to concerns about giving over ownership of the new maternity hospital to the Sisters of Charity.
It comes as Health Minister Simon Harris published the agreement worked out between Holles Street and St Vincent's. The document says the hospital will be required to treat patients "without religious, ethnic or other distinction".
The consultant with primary responsibility for the care of a patient will decide what services are required and in which location they be provided.
It confirms the maternity hospital will be run by an independent company which has reserved powers to protect its autonomy.
The board will be comprised of nine directors. They will include four from St Vincent's, four from the National Maternity Hospital and one who will be an independent international expert on obstetrics.
The independent expert will be chosen from a list of candidates drawn up by both groups and will be assessed by a selection committee.
Board members who are "aggrieved" will be allowed to consult the Minister for Health of the day.
St Vincent's Healthcare will be the sole owner of the company controlling the hospital but will be subject to the Minister for Health holding a "golden share".
It says the deal must be underpinned by a legal agreement.
Mr Harris said last night that he and his officials are to meet with the two hospitals shortly.
He is hoping that each side will spend a month clarifying issues and said the application for planning permission will have a decision by September.
Meanwhile, the planning files show that 244 beds will be provided, each of which will be a private room with en suite facilities, unlike the existing hospital where few private rooms are offered.
Holles Street is just 14,000 square metres, and the new facility at St Vincent's will be almost 51,000 square metres.
Some 9,355 babies were born in Holles Street in 2015, and the new facility will cater for 10,000. Holles Street has 10 delivery rooms, and the new facility will have 24.
"Some 72pc of the overall floorspace [in maternity services] is determined by the requirements to support over 10,000 births per annum and the clinical space planning requirements associated with same," the planning files state.
The five operating theatres will be located on the fourth floor, with direct access through a walkway to St Vincent's.
Both hospitals will be linked with a corridor.