Saturday 20 January 2018

National Maternity Hospital will be clinically independent after move to St Vincent's site

The position of the new National Maternity Hospital on the St Vincent's campus
The position of the new National Maternity Hospital on the St Vincent's campus
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The new National Maternity Hospital will be given full clinical and operational independence, allowing it to provide all services which are legal, it emerged yesterday.

A detailed document will now be drawn up which will seek to reflect this principle in advance of its proposed move from Holles Street to the campus of St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin 4.

It will mean that if the law is changed under any repeal of the Eighth Amendment, widening the grounds for termination of pregnancy, the maternity hospital would be able to perform any newly legal procedures.

The agreement on clinical independence was reached with the St Vincent's Healthcare Group this week after a long-running row over the control of the new hospital, which it is hoped will open in 2021.

Planning permission to build the hospital is due to be lodged early next year following the deal brokered by mediator Kieran Mulvey, the former chief executive of the Labour Relations Commission.

St Vincent's Hospital is wholly owned by the Religious Sisters of Charity, two of whose nuns sit on the board.

A report to Health Minister Simon Harris on the agreement said both parties agreed that a new company should be established to operate the new hospital.

The board of the new company will be established and operational six months prior to the date of transfer of the hospital.

The new maternity hospital will have "reserved powers" which it will exercise in an "undiluted manner".It is designed to preserve the autonomy of the hospital in clinical matters.

There should be clinical and operational independence in the provision of maternity, gynaecology, obstetrics and neonatal services without religious, ethnic or other distinction.

The role of master is to be retained.

The report said there should be nine directors of the company to be known as National Maternity Hospital at Elm Park DAC. Four of these will be nominated by St Vincent's and four by the National Maternity Hospital's chartered trust.

The master is one of the directors. Another director will be an independent international expert in obstetrics and gynaecology.

Two of these will sit on the board of St Vincent's.

The independent international expert will be drawn from a list of candidates put forward by St Vincent's and the National Maternity Hospital Trust.

They will be assessed by a selection committee, chaired by the St Vincent's clinical director. It will also include the chief executive of St Vincent's.

The report said the St Vincent's board advanced the valid point that it had overall responsibility for the effective and efficient operation of the totality of the hospital campus.

The original cost of the hospital was put at €150m in 2013, but construction inflation is likely to push this up.

The current master, Dr Rhona Mahony, has two more years of her seven-year term to run. If the hospital opens in 2021 as hoped, there will be a new master at the helm.

Irish Independent

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