Separate hospital boards 'a risk to mothers'
Women who need to be urgently transferred from the National Maternity Hospital to St Vincent's Hospital for acute medical care could be put at risk if both facilities are governed separately, it has been claimed.
James Menton, chair of the St Vincent's Healthcare Group, said that if both hospitals are under separate governance, time could be wasted as separate teams from each hospital debate the process of transfer, or the relative responsibilities for patient care.
He outlined his views in a letter to former Health Minister Leo Varadkar, which will now be passed on to the new Health Minister, Simon Harris.
Mr Menton was replying to Mr Varadkar's letter that warned that an alternative site for the new €150m maternity hospital would have to be found if some agreement on how it will be governed was not reached within weeks.
St Vincent's wants the new maternity facility integrated under its control when it is built on its campus. But the National Maternity Hospital is resisting this.
Mr Menton said St Vincent's would be happy to see the post of master of the maternity hospital remain for five to 10 years after the hospital is built.
The chairman also said he wanted to reassure the Minister of the commitment of St Vincent's to work with the National Maternity Hospital to overcome its concerns. "We believe that the board and management have done everything possible to allay the genuine concerns" of the National Maternity Hospital, he wrote.
St Vincent's "remains fully committed to the new maternity hospital project on our campus", he added.
Mr Menton said he would welcome a resumption of "meaningful dialogue on the project" with National Maternity Hospital colleagues in the near future.
The National Maternity Hospital has said it remains absolutely committed to the development of a co-located hospital at St Vincent's and wants to resume talks.
Mr Harris has called on both sides to put their "egos aside" and said that the people of Ireland and expectant mothers don't care about a bureaucratic row.
However, if the latest attempt at talks fail he may have to act on his predecessor's threat and find an alternative site.
Mr Varadkar threatened to pull funding from St Vincent's University Hospital if the bitter row over the relocation of the National Maternity Hospital to Elm Park rages on.