Monday 27 February 2017

Maternity boss warns Holles St of move risk

Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Prof Richard Greene wrote to the master of Holles Street, Dr Rhona Mahony, warning her any loss of independence under re-location plans would be 'a step backwards'. Photo Damien Eagers / Irish Independent
Prof Richard Greene wrote to the master of Holles Street, Dr Rhona Mahony, warning her any loss of independence under re-location plans would be 'a step backwards'. Photo Damien Eagers / Irish Independent

A senior obstetrician has warned that the development of services in Cork University Maternity Hospital are being hampered because of a lack of budget control and "loss of independence."

The maternity hospital, which delivers 9,000 babies a year, is under the governance of Cork University Hospital which also controls its budget.

This is a similar kind of structure to which the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin's Holles St is resisting as part of its planned move to the campus of St Vincent's Hospital in Elm Park.

It is understood that Prof Richard Greene, Professor of Clinical Obstetrics in Cork, wrote to the master of Holles Street, Dr Rhona Mahony, warning her any loss of independence under re-location plans would be "a step backwards".

Based on his experience in Cork city's only maternity hospital, he said the lack of control over its own budget meant that it was not even able to undertake minor changes to the service "that would be helpful".

It lost control of its budget and governance structure when it moved to the grounds of the general hospital in 2007.

"While we essentially have a theatre that has never been opened appropriately for gynaecological services, we have not been able to develop some of the service provisions that are necessary because of this budgetary situation.

"It has taken eight years to get to the point of correcting simple issues like individualised cubicles in the emergency room to enhance privacy and confidentiality.

"This has eventually been done in 2015 but has taken a long time to achieve."

He also said he believes the lack of a direct governance board for maternity services was needed to examine significant ethical dilemmas that arise from time to time in a maternity service. They would have an understanding of unusual issues.

"We look north towards Dublin hospitals and appreciate while they have difficulties there are real values in their status as independent units with their own governance structures."

In response, a spokesman for the HSE South/South West Hospital Group confirmed Cork University Hospital holds the budget for acute and maternity services on campus. He insisted there were no concerns on the share-out of the budget.

Irish Independent

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