Hospital chief asks Santa to solve funding crisis

THE head of the country’s oldest maternity hospital has repeated a 266-year-old plea for Santa to solve his facility’s funding and staffing crisis because health service management can’t do so.

Writing in today’s Irish Examiner, Dr Sam Coulter-Smith, master of Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital, said that, like the facility’s first master Bartholomew Mosse in 1745, he does not believe senior health service officials are capable of properly caring for mothers and newborns.

“My big fear is that we’re going to lose our stressed and overworked doctors and midwives if maternity services don’t receive proper attention very soon. So Santa, can you please persuade the people who fund our health service to understand the need to address these issues,” Dr Coulter-Smith wrote.

“I know these requests might sound familiar Santa as I recently found a copy of a letter Dr Bartholomew Mosse, the founder of this hospital, sent you back in 1745. He was very worried that he did not have enough money to pay for the running of the hospital.

“You may remember that he took great pains to point out that if his hospital did not receive the necessary funds, then all the improvements he had made and the safe environment he had created for women giving birth would be put at risk.

“It’s amazing Santa that over 200 years later I am now writing to you asking for almost the very same things.”

While the 1745 letter in fact relates to clinical record files, Dr Coulter-Smith said the issues remain the same.

About 9,000 women give birth in the Rotunda each year and, according to the 2011 census, its north Dublin/Fingal catchment area has Europe’s fastest growing population of child-bearing age.

However, the Rotunda was designed to cope with up to 6,500 deliveries per year, meaning it is operating almost 50% above capacity.

Dr Coulter-Smith’s open letter is published in full in today’s Weekend supplement, alongside letters to Santa from the likes of broadcaster Joe Duffy and writer Claudia Carroll.

Prof Stephen Cusack, emergency medicine consultant at Cork University Hospital, also wrote asking for help in solving Ireland’s trolley crisis and what he described as a lack of up-to-date equipment in the public health service.

“You know we have a staff of highly trained and qualified people who live to treat the acutely sick and injured. We’d really like to do just that and not have to ‘warehouse’ every other patient,” he said.

“If you could do anything, anything at all, about the centralised Orwellian bureaucratic nightmare that is now our health service I would appreciate it.”

More in this section

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence

Discover the

Install our free app today

Available on


Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.