Maternity hospital looking at new sites after row
Senior figures at the National Maternity Hospital are exploring a range of possible sites for its relocation as the row over a move to the campus of St Vincent's Hospital deepens.
The executives in the hospital, which is currently located in an out-dated building on Holles Street and is earmarked to move to the Dublin 4 campus, are now spreading the net to examine other sites where it could construct a modern premises.
However, it is understood that the Department of Health remains of the view that building a new maternity hospital on the grounds of St Vincent's is still the best option.
It is ultimately a matter for the department to decide where the €150m of Exchequer funding will be used to construct the new hospital.
A decision on whether to abandon the planned move to St Vincent's and review other locations will be one of the first items on the agenda of the next health minister.
St Vincent's Healthcare Group is adamant that it must have control of the corporate governance of the new hospital but this is being resisted by the maternity hospital's board.
The St Vincent's board is embroiled in the row over corporate governance at a time when its public hospital emergency department is facing dangerous levels of overcrowding and it has had to close its doors to new patients with skin cancer.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar reiterated yesterday that his preference is for the maternity hospital to retain its independence as part of a co-location structure.
"Clinical care at Vincent's has clearly benefited from having its own independent board and there is every reason that the same independence should be retained at the maternity hospital," he said.
Dr Peter Boylan, chair of the Institute of Obstetricians, warned yesterday that any more delays would leave pregnant women at a disadvantage as they gave birth in out-of-date and cramped conditions.
Even if the maternity hospital is represented on an all-embracing board, it would be down the priority list, he said, adding: "The three maternity hospitals in Dublin are overcrowded and they need to be re-located. It is time to get on with it."
A spokesman for the National Maternity Hospital said: "We are committed to seeking a resolution of the current impasse and developing a world-class hospital... at the St Vincent's site. We don't want to speculate on other options at this stage."