Last baby to be born in days as Mount Carmel prepares to shut down
THE last baby will be born in Mount Carmel Hospital in Dublin on Friday and it will close its doors for good the following weekend.
Unions were informed of the scaledown at a meeting with the hospital's liquidators yesterday, said SIPTU official Kevin Figgis.
An ante-natal service will continue to be provided next week but no births will take place there. An obstetrician will be on duty until February 8 or 9.
The private hospital, which has been in liquidation since last Friday, has had 17 babies born there since.
A number of patients who were transferred there from neighbouring hospitals to receive routine care will all have been discharged by this Friday.
Staff were told they will get statutory redundancy but may have to wait six months before they receive it.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who is TD for the Churchtown area, visited the hospital last night and addressed staff.
They appealed to him to put pressure on the Department of Health to buy the hospital, which was taken over by NAMA in 2010.
Mr Shatter said he could not make any commitments about the hospital, which has debts of around €35m. "Of course it's awful," he began, until he was interrupted by a former employee, who said: "But the Governments bailed out the banks, we're only looking for a fraction, you know. Human life wasn't involved with the banks."
Mr Shatter replied: "I know you're stressed. But the Government doesn't... The country is practically bankrupt and all of you here, if we hadn't bailed out the banks, who had any deposits held at any financial institutions would have found all of those wiped out overnight as well."
Between 20 and 25 babies a week are normally born in the hospital but hundreds of women who were booked in to give birth in the coming weeks or months are being transferred to other maternity hospitals in Dublin.
A spokeswoman for the liquidators, RSM Farrell Grant Sparks, said it is continuing to scale down activities in the hospital and care was now confined to women who were booked in to give birth.
The staff are being paid up to the end of this month and a small number will be retained next week.
The number of births fell to 1,250 last year from about 2,000 a couple of years ago.The hospital, which was being kept afloat by NAMA, has debts of over €35m.
It had been acquired by developer Jerry Conlan in 2006 from the Little Company of Mary Sisters, using a €65m loan from AIB, and has been up for sale since last year.
While as many as 28 serious potential bidders emerged from an initial 50 expressions of interest, just one substantial bid was received.
The HSE and the Department of Health were approached by NAMA in connection with the sale of Mount Carmel. Due to a number of factors, including the declining birth rate, the HSE decided not to buy it.