Sunday 22 October 2017

'Triple-lock system' to stop nuns running hospital

Dr Rhona Mahony. Photo: Arthur Carron
Dr Rhona Mahony. Photo: Arthur Carron
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A "triple-lock" is in place to guarantee the autonomy and clinical independence of the new national maternity hospital, Dr Rhona Mahony, the hospital's master, has insisted.

She was speaking amid growing disquiet about giving ownership of the new €300m hospital - to be built on the grounds of the St Vincent's Hospital campus - to the Sisters of Charity.

The outcome of a planning application which was lodged with An Bord Pleanála earlier this year is not expected until the summer. The latest broadside came from former Holles Street master and retired obstetrician Peter Boylan - Dr Mahony's brother-in-law.

Dr Boylan said he was concerned about the future provision of services at the new national maternity hospital, including IVF, abortion and gender realignment "which will be contrary to the nuns' beliefs".

However, Dr Mahony said she was shocked at Dr Boylan's claim that the nuns will run the hospital.

Read more: National maternity hospital explainer: The nuns, the €300m in taxpayer's money, and the suddenly-quiet health minister

Dr Peter Boylan. Photo: Tom Burke
Dr Peter Boylan. Photo: Tom Burke

The master, who was key to the agreement worked out between the board of Holles Street and St Vincent's Healthcare Group, said the safeguards include the retention of the master-ship system, an entirely independent board -dedicated to the provision of maternity, gynaecological and neonatal services - and an independent company to run the facility.

Referring to opposition to the nuns' ownership by victims of institution abuse and survivors of Magdalene laundries, she said mixing the issues of redress with clinical need will ultimately cause more suffering for women.

She said it is not true that nuns would run the hospital and insisted current services will continue to be delivered there, including contra-ception and terminations of pregnancy under the law. She was supported by Holles Street chairman Nicky Kearns, who said as a lawyer he is satisfied that the necessary elements to safeguard the independence are "water tight and sound".

"What we don't need is misinformation. We don't need scare-mongering," Dr Mahony told the 'Today with Sean O'Rourke' programme.

Irish Independent

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