National Maternity Hospital to review controversial birth quota

ONE of the country’s largest maternity hospitals is considering removing its quota on admissions due to a falling number of births in the Dublin region.

It was revealed yesterday that the number of births in the capital’s maternity hospitals in 2005 has decreased about 3% on the same period last year.

As a result, the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street is to review its controversial decision to introduce a quota, limiting the number of births to avoid overcrowding.

The hospital’s secretary manager, Michael Lenihan, suggested the drop in the number of births in Dublin could be attributed to fewer non-nationals giving birth in Ireland.

Asked if this was the likely explanation, he said: “That could very well be the case. Certainly in our hospital there has been a reduction that we have seen over the last year in that regard.”

Last year, the hospital announced it would set a cap of 700 deliveries a month from June to September.

A spokesperson said the measure was taken in the interests of patient safety due to problems caused by lack of space.

The limit was put in place after new births at the hospital reached a monthly average of 770 last summer.

“No firm decision has been taken in relation to next year but the matter is under review,” he said.

However, an allocation of €15 million from the Department of Health towards an extension at Holles Street should alleviate any problem of overcrowding.

The money will go towards a 3,000sq metre extension of the hospital over the next three years.

But Mr Lenihan stressed the plans to provide an additional delivery suite and to relocate the neo-natal intensive care unit and other facilities were part of an interim development.

The €15m funding was provided despite warnings Holles Street Hospital must either be demolished and rebuilt or moved to a new location in order to provide proper state-of-the-art services.

An architect’s report advised the hospital that any phased redevelopment of the existing building would have a significant effect on its capacity.

The hospital’s board supports a move of the entire facility to a site at St Vincent’s Hospital, which is in south Dublin.

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