Maternity hospital decision tonight

THE immediate fate of Cork’s new maternity hospital will be decided at a crucial meeting of midwives tonight.

Irish Nurses’ Organisation president Liam Doran is expected to travel from Dublin to address the midwives.

They will then have to decide if they will move to Cork University Maternity Hospital in time for Saturday’s commissioning deadline.

Last Friday, the INO rejected a Health Service Executive offer, which included a range of measures to improve the staffing situation at the hospital.

Resolution of the dispute rests on more recent HSE assurances on staffing levels and the time it will take to recruit suitable people.

Throughout yesterday, intensive talks between midwives and HSE officials continued. They are expected to continue today as information is fed back to midwives at the three existing maternity hospitals in Cork.

This follows site visits to the each hospital by HSE representatives and consultants to try and muster support for the move to the €75m hospital.

In the meantime, more than 200 staff have been to the new hospital for induction training. The HSE said it anticipates it will be able to recruit the necessary staff by September, four months earlier than first anticipated.

A HSE spokeswoman said it will not take any decision on plans for the weekend until after tonight’s meeting.

“Meetings will continue throughout today but at the moment the main focus is on the INO and the outcome of the meeting.

“When we know more, we will be in contact with expectant mothers, either directly through the hospital or through all of the media,” she said.

nThe patient information line is 1850 742 628.

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