Government TD calls for deal with St Vincent’s to be paused
The controversial term "clinically appropriate” will remain in the new National Maternity Hospital’s constitution but a Government memo on Tuesday as the Cabinet signs off on the project will state that it relates to legally permissible procedures.
The Cabinet memo will state that clinically appropriate procedures include all that are legally permitted in the areas of maternity, obstetrics, gynaecology and gender recognition.
However, procedures such as cardiac or orthopaedic surgeries will not be allowed in the new hospital.
The Cabinet memo will also commit to the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, which will advise the Government on women’s health issues.
The national clinical director of the new National Women’s and Infants’ Health Programme will be asked bring forward a proposal on establishing the centre.
Tourism Minister and Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin has been advocating for such a centre and discussed the proposal with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly last week.
With the deal set to be signed off by Cabinet on Tuesday, her Green Party colleague Neasa Hourigan echoed Opposition calls for it to be put on hold.
"All transactions are built on trust - trust that doesn’t exist right now. That is not simply because of the St Vincent’s Group involvement but also the highly corporate nature of this deal. My concerns are as much or more about land value and Sláintecare as Catholicism,” the Dublin Central TD and party health spokesperson said on Twitter this evening.
She said the decision was being put before Cabinet and a car park built on the site even before a business case had been put forward.
Ms Hourigan said that there had not been accountability to the Oireachtas and that not for the first time the Department of Health appeared to be “a law unto itself”.
"I repeat again the need to release all relevant, legal documents related to share transfers from one entity to the other and to either remove ‘clinically appropriate’, clarify it or add rights based language to the documents to protect those receiving services,” she said.
"The NMH must not just provide those services but be a centre of excellence for abortion care as this is part and parcel of maternal care for many people. If it is to proceed, the NMH, the Department and SVHG should create a professorship in the hospital for this purpose.
"Finally much of the complexity of this deal could be avoided by a more publicly owned and operated hospital model. This is our National Maternity Hospital - it’s worth getting the procurement, governance model and interaction with the private sector right from the get go.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said earlier today that the transfer of the new NMH from Holles Street to the St Vincent’s campus will go ahead as planned.
Mr Martin said that the phrase “clinically appropriate” in the legal documents will not be removed.
He was speaking as Cabinet ministers are set to sign off on the deal tomorrow, after agreeing a two-week delay to provide further reassurances.
“We haven’t made changes to the legal documents, the legal documents were agreed between the three parties, the HSE, the National Maternity Hospital and St Vincent’s Holdings,” he said.
“The legal documents stand, if you read the legal documents, they’re very, very clear."
The Taoiseach said it was “very, very clear” that “all lawfully permitted services” will be provided in the hospital.
“The documents are very clear about that and the legal advice we have received, the Attorney General is very, very clear about that in terms of the constitution of the new hospital,” he said.
The Taoiseach said there was a lot of “strength and substance” to the agreement.
St Vincent’s Holdings, the charity that owns St Vincent’s hospital and the lands on which the new NMH will be built on, told the Oireachtas Health Committee earlier that two different landowners on the site would create “significant risk” to patients’ care.