Monday 14 October 2019

National Maternity Hospital controversy: Five things you need to know today

Dr Peter Boylan (inset)
Dr Peter Boylan (inset)
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

After refusing to step down from the board of the National Maternity Hospital earlier in the week, Dr Peter Boylan has today announced his resignation.

Dr Boylan has been a very outspoken critic of plans to have the new €300m National Maternity Hospital built on a site owned by the Religious Sisters of Charity.

Plans to have the new hospital located on the Elm Park campus at St Vincent's Hospital have also been met with public outcry.

Here are the five latest things you need to know about the controversy:

1. Why has Dr Peter Boylan decided to step down now?

Explaining his decision on Newstalk's Pat Kenny Show, Dr Boylan said he felt like a "lone voice" on the hospital board and couldn't "remain a member of a board that is so blind."

His decision follows a board meeting on Wednesday night where plans to build the new hospital on the Elm Park site were re-endorsed by the board of Holles Street maternity hospital.

He was initially asked to resign by text message last Sunday.

Deputy chairman Nicholas Kearns and current master of the hospital, Dr Rhona Mahony requested that he resign "immediately".

After initially saying he refused to step down in an interview on RTÉ's Morning Ireland on Tuesday, he announced his resignation with immediate effect today.

In response to his resignation, Deputy Chairman Nicholas Kearns wrote: "Dear Peter, thank you for your letter received this morning by email.

"Without accepting or engaging in any way with the contentions contained in your letter, I wish to express on behalf of the hospital its thanks to you for the many years of excellent professional care and service you have provided.

"I am also saddened that your association with the hospital has ended and wish you every success in the future."

2. What happened at the board meeting last night?

After a four-hour meeting, there was a majority decision to back the plan, despite strong public opposition and heated debate.

Dr Boylan was one of three board members, along with Dublin Lord Mayor Brendan Carr and Sinn Féin Councillor Michael Mac Donncha, who voted against the re-endorsement at the meeting.

The Holles Street board's deputy chairman Nicholas Kearns, flanked by hospital master Dr Rhona Mahony, said after the meeting that the board welcomed the statement from St Vincent's Healthcare Group on Tuesday saying all services which are legal will be available in the new hospital.

There was no motion at the meeting calling for Dr Boylan's resignation, he has stepped down today of his own accord.

3. What does the agreement concerning the new hospital say?

The agreement between St Vincent's Healthcare Group and the National Maternity Hospital says independence of the maternity hospital will be protected through a new Designated Activity Company providing maternity services.

The company will be a 100pc subsidary of St Vincent’s Healthcare Group.

However, the group's ownership is conditional on allowing the State a ‘golden share’ in the company to protect its independence, and a ‘lien’, so that it cannot be used as collateral against loans or sold.

The document states that both hospitals "will benefit significantly by this re-location" and outlines the details of the arrangement.

You can read the full agreement here .

4. What has the Health Minister been saying about all this?

Health Minister Simon Harris has said the need for a new hospital should outweigh any concerns members of the public had over the site's links to the Catholic Church.

Earlier this week, Mr Harris also said a legal contract between St Vincent’s Hospital and the State still needed to be written up and agreed to.

"The agreement reached between the two hospitals endeavoured to address issues, in terms of clinical independence, in terms of ownership … What I want to say to people today is these are issues that we will tease through," he said.

5. Will the new hospital be going ahead as planned now?

Due to the fact the hospital board has voted overwhelmingly in favour of the current agreement, and the fact Minister Harris is backing the move, it seems likely that the new National Maternity Hospital will be going ahead as planned.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News