Maternity hospital move is good news for mothers and babies
Dr Rhona Mahony, the master of the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dublin, spoke yesterday of how upset she feels for mothers who must endure the crowded conditions in its building dating from the 19th Century.
It is the busiest maternity hospital in Europe, delivering nearly 10,000 babies annually. Yet its staff and patients struggle daily in the outdated conditions.
The announcement that it is to move to the campus of St Vincent's Hospital, about a mile away in Elm Park, has been long overdue.
It is as far back as 2008 that a major report on the re-location of the city's three major maternity hospitals called for them to be co-located with an acute hospital.
The aim is to have the new purpose-built hospital open by 2018. But much needs to be overcome if that goal is to be reached.
The Government has pledged that €150m has been earmarked for the project but it is still unclear how far this will extend in meeting its funding needs. It's worth remembering that the new National Children's Hospital will cost around €650m.
Then there is the hurdle of planning permission. Challenges from local residents can be expected as the hospital will be located in the expensive Dublin 4. The new hospital will attract more traffic and this could affect house prices.
Health Minister James Reilly was unable to give any timescale for the re-location of the other two maternity hospitals, the Rotunda and the Coombe. Their needs are every bit as pressing and doctors in both hospitals have warned of safety risks.