Tuesday 24 October 2017

'Thanks for the years of excellent service' - Hospital board pens response to Dr Peter Boylan's resignation

Dr Peter Boylan
Dr Peter Boylan

Denise Calnan and Cathal McMahon

The National Maternity Hospital board has formally accepted the resignation of Dr Peter Boylan.

In a letter penned by Deputy Chairman Nicholas Kearns, he 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."

Dr Boylan announced his resignation on Newstalk's Pat Kenny Show this morning.

He claimed he was a "lone voice" more or less on the board but added that he was not a lone voice in the community or the medical profession.

He also said the board is "deaf to concerns of the public it serves."

Dr Boylan voiced his concerns late last week about controversial plans to build a new €300m maternity hospital, which would be built on land owned by the Sisters of Charity.

Earlier this week the former master and board member Dr Boylan was asked by text message to resign over his criticism of the project but he did not step down at the time.

The plans to build the new hospital were re-endorsed by the board of Holles Street maternity hospital last night.

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

Dr Boylan told host Pat Kenny that the "vote was overwhelmingly" in favour of the move to St Vincent's at the meeting. He said he is grateful that there was no motion calling for him to resign from the baord at Wednesday's meeting.

He said: "I can't remain a member of a board which is so blind to the consequences of its decision to transfer sole ownership of the hospital to the Sisters of Charity and so deaf to the concerns of the public which it serves."

He added: "I am grateful that no motion was put to ask me to resign from the board last night. I appreciate that.

"However, today on reflection I have decided I am going to resign and I have resigned. I have written to the deputy chairman informing him of that."

Dr Boylan said: "I'm a lone voice, more or less, on the board. But not a lone voice in the community or the medical profession."

He went on to confirm that his resignation: "Today on reflection I have decided I am going to resign."

He said: "It is the new and the next Master of the National Maternity Hospital who will have to pick up the pieces" of this decision.

However Dr Boylan claimed that the Sisters of Charity will "hang in tough". "They take a very long term view... they're very difficult to negotiate with."

He added: "The women of this country need a new NMH on this site, but not encumbered by ownership of religious orders."

He said it was a "scandal" that the state would gift the new facility to the Sisters of Charity.

Dr Boylan also denied he was responsible for the publicity surrounding the decision to move the site, adding that he was out of the country when the story first broke.

"I didn't start this, I advised that it was likely to cause concern when it was put into the public domain."

Details of his letter to the board were later released by Newstalk. In the document (below) Dr Boylan outlined his reasons for stepping down.

He concluded: "It is my view that the desire to achieve a much-needed new hospital has blinded you, and most members of the board, to the long-term consequences for the care of women in the future.

"I am saddened to end my association with the hospital to which I have dedicated my professional career in this way."

Letter from Dr Boylan.jpg-large.jpg
Letter from Dr Boylan to the board of the National Maternity Hospital. Picture: Newstalk
Letter from Dr Boylan 2.jpg-large.jpg
Letter from Dr Boylan to the board of the National Maternity Hospital. Picture: Newstalk

Reacting to the decision Labour leader Brendan Howlin said it is "hugely disappointing" that Dr Boylan had resigned from the board.

Speaking on Today with Sean O Rourke he said “Mr Boylan was told his responsibility was to the board and not the citizens of Ireland, the women who will use this facility."

Mr Howlin said "If we have learnt anything from financial crisis and other crises, it is that we need to listen and encourage debate and concerns should be raised and not be suppressed. That is what has happened here."

He said we need to have those points openly debated.

"I think we have to migrate to a different world. It's not going to be a big bang. The controversy over the NMH that has ignited will start that debate. We should go with a rational expectation that state funded institutions that are 100 %funded by the taxpayer, that are staffed by people who are 100pc paid by taxpayer should be owned and controlled by the taxpayer."

Deputy Howlin said Ireland's health systems are democratically funded and controlled and they should not be subject to any ethos.

He said he would like to see a settlement made that is reasonable to all parties.

"I would like to see an agreement made with the Sisters of Charity to hand over the land, obviously for financial consideration, also taking into account the redress board monies due. I think a settlement that would be reasonable to all parties that would put this whole issue of democratic control beyond doubt."

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