Thursday 23 November 2017

NMH allowed fertility clinic to delay paying €130,000 in rent

Master of the NMH Rhona Mahony Photo: Mark Condren
Master of the NMH Rhona Mahony Photo: Mark Condren

Cormac McQuinn and Eilish O'Regan

The fertility clinic linked to the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) was allowed to delay paying around €130,000 rent to the hospital because of financial difficulties.

The Merrion Fertility Clinic intends to relocate to the planned maternity hospital at the St Vincent's campus and is to pay rent there if the move takes place.

The NMH board previously allowed the clinic to defer payment of rent at its current premises for eight months.

The clinic's request for the deferral was raised at a board meeting in September 2013.

It came at a time when the NHM was itself facing financial pressure. Its 2013 Annual Report says the NMH faced "considerable financial challenges" in 2014.

An NMH spokesperson said: "In 2013 it (the fertility clinic) asked for a rent deferral during a period of financial difficulty for them." This was granted for eight months.

It is understood the deferred sum came to around €133,000. Rental payments are now "fully up to date". The Merrion Fertility Clinic pays €200,000 yearly in rent to the NMH for premises beside the hospital.

Clinical director professor Mary Wingfield said it sought the temporary deferral because of financial difficulties in 2012/2013. This was "primarily due to reduced income to the clinic, secondary to the recession, and a reduction in the number of patients able to afford IVF treatment".

"All monies related to that deferral have been paid back to the hospital," she said.

The master of the NMH, Rhona Mahony, is a voluntary director of Merrion Fertility Clinic, a not-for-profit company.

The clinic intends to move to the St Vincent's site but the "finer details" are yet to be finalised, it said.

The Department of Health said there is no provision for Merrion Fertility Clinic in the new hospital's design.

An assisted conception area is included, but the department said it is not possible "at this early stage" to answer detailed questions on the new hospital's operations.

Irish Independent

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