Monday 5 December 2016

Why should religious order wield more power in hospitals than Minister for Health?

Published 03/05/2016 | 02:30

Master of the NMH, Rhona Mahony, said the nation’s maternity hospitals were “falling down” and “not fit for purpose”.
Master of the NMH, Rhona Mahony, said the nation’s maternity hospitals were “falling down” and “not fit for purpose”.

The battle between St Vincent’s Healthcare Group (SVHG) and the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) boils down to one thing: should a religious order have ultimate control over the State’s maternity services?

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The State funds St Vincent’s Hospital to the tune of more than €200m a year, yet despite this mammoth sum an order of nuns wields more power at the hospital than the Minister for Health.

Contrary to the recommendations of the National Maternity Strategy and the express wishes of acting Minister for Health Leo Varadkar, the Masters of all three maternity hospitals in Dublin and the Chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Ireland, SVHG is refusing to allow the construction of a new €150m maternity hospital on its Elm Park campus unless it controls corporate governance at the facility.

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