Latest: Minister publishes deal for the new national maternity hospital

Latest: The deal to move Holles Street Hospital to St Vincent's in Dublin has been published.

Latest: Minister publishes deal for the new national maternity hospital

Update - 6.45pm: The deal to move Holles Street Hospital to St Vincent's in Dublin has been published.

The Health Minister Simon Harris says the deal can be seen on the Website of the new national maternity hospital, after calls for transparency.

Mr Harris has also welcomed a claim by the St Vincent's Healthcare Group that the new facility will carry out all legal medical procedures.

This comes after concerns were expressed about the ownership of the site by the Sisters of Charity.

The Boards of both hospitals are meeting this week and will no doubt review progress to date. The Minister and his officials will arrange meetings with the two hospitals shortly. The Minister repeated his request that some time be allowed for the detailed work that is necessary.

The Department of Health issued a statement on behalf of the Minister saying: "The project is at the very early stages with a planning decision on the hospital not expected until the Autumn. The Minister intends to report to Government on this project at the end of May. At that stage he expects to have further details on the legal and other arrangements envisaged and to make this information available publicly. This will allow for the necessary clarity to be publicly available well in advance of contractual or other commitments being entered into in respect of this project.

"The location of all maternity hospitals on the sites of adult teaching hospitals is a key objective of the National Maternity Strategy, in order to deliver the best outcomes for women and children. The relocation of the National Maternity Hospital to the St Vincent’s campus, Elm Park has been the subject of three separate mediation processes since 2015. This culminated in the agreement between the National Maternity Hospital and St Vincent’s which was successfully concluded last November under the mediation of Mr Kieran Mulvey. This agreement provides for the creation of a new company which would have 'clinical and operational independence in the provision of maternity, gynaecology, obstetrics and neonatal services (without religious, ethnic or other distinction)'.

"A legal process is necessary to establish this company and provide for the structure, objectives, role and powers. Separate to this process is the development of legal arrangements regarding the terms upon which public funds will be made available to support the construction of the hospital. Further work will now take place over the coming weeks to bring added clarity to these matters."

Earlier: The Board of St Vincent's Hospital, where the new national maternity hospital will be sited, has said that "any medical procedure which is in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Ireland will be carried out at the new hospital".

That is despite fears its owners The Sisters of Charity could prevent treatments that are contrary to their Catholic beliefs.

It also claims that the Sisters do not owe any money to the compensation scheme for abuse victims.

The board hit out at "misinformation and untruthful allegations" in response to former master of the National Maternity Hospital Dr Peter Boylan over his opposition to nuns having ultimate ownership of the new hospital.

Four out of the nine board members of the new maternity hospital will come from the St Vincent’s board.

Dr Boylan was asked to step down from his role on the board of the current National Maternity Hospital by deputy chairman Nicholas Kearns via text message on Sunday.

He last week questioned whether clinical care, including abortions or IVF treatment, would be influenced by the nuns' religious beliefs and said it is inappropriate for a hospital to have a strong religious influence, particularly from the Catholic Church.

He said his fears were well founded after Bishop Kevin Doran said that the Sisters would have to obey church law as owners, regardless of how the facility is funded, and that governance rests with the Pope.

Dr Boylan was asked to resign over his intervention by the deputy chair of National Maternity Hospital Judge Nicholas Kearns.

"I don't feel I should resign," the consultant said.

"There's been questions about loyalty to the board - I feel a loyalty to the women of Ireland."

The Board of St Vincent's said that the clinical independence of the hospital "will be enshrined in the Memorandum and Articles of the new hospital".

They said: "Continuing to suggest that procedures currently undertaken at NMH will not be available in the new maternity hospital is entirely false and without foundation. In line with current policy and procedures at SVHG, any medical procedure which is in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Ireland will be carried out at the new hospital.

"In conclusion the Board of SVHG noted recent media reports in which the Department of Education confirmed that their shareholders, the Religious Sisters of Charity, do not have any outstanding liabilities to the taxpayer relating to the Redress Scheme."

The terms of the deal on the new National Maternity Hospital, which was brokered with the Sisters of Charity last November, were supposed to be confidential.

The nuns own the land that it is being built on and it is understood they were not asked to sell the site to the State.

The full statement from James Menton, Chairman of the Board, SVHG reads:

In the light of comments made by Dr Peter Boylan in an interview on Morning Ireland this morning, the Board of SVHG is compelled to respond to the continued misinformation and untruthful allegations being made by him concerning the medical care which will be available to women attending the new maternity hospital at Elm Park.

The primary concern of the Board of Directors of SVHG and of the Chartered Trust of the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) is the delivery of a modern maternity and neonatal service that is women and infant centred and which is safe and world class. The National Maternity Hospital at Elm Park, DAC, will deliver such a facility for the women of Ireland.

The clinical independence of the hospital will be enshrined in the Memorandum and Articles of the new hospital, as agreed by both SVHG and NMH in the agreement mediated by Kieran Mulvey.

The Memorandum and Articles of Association will state, in accordance with the agreement, that the Principal Objectives of the National Maternity Hospital at Elm Park DAC will be:

a) “To provide a range of health services by the establishment and operation of a new maternity, obstetrics, gynaecology and neonatal hospital at Elm Park, Dublin, in succession to the objectives and services and heretofore provided by the current NMH establishment and operated by the Chartered Trust (1903).

b) “to provide a range of health services in the community as heretofore, such operation and provision to be conducted in accordance with the newly agreed clinical governance arrangements for the National Maternity Hospital at Elm Park…..by providing as far as possible, by whatever manner and means from time to time available, for the health, happiness and welfare of those accepted as patients, without religious or ethnic or other distinction and by supporting the work of all involved in the delivery of care to such patients and their families or guardians, including research or investigation which may further such work”.

The autonomy of the Board of the National Maternity Hospital at Elm Park DAC in specific clinical and operational matters will be further enhanced with provisions in the Memorandum and Articles of Association for agreed exclusive “Reserve Powers” to be provided to the Board. These powers will ensure:

a) “Clinical and operational independence in the provision of maternity, gynaecology, obstetrics and neonatal services (without religious, ethnic or other distinction) in the hospital at Elm Park, Dublin and the provision of medical, surgical, nursing, midwifery and other health services at Elm Park, Dublin, including strategic planning in relation to the development of such services in the future in accordance with best practice”.

Continuing to suggest that procedures currently undertaken at NMH will not be available in the new maternity hospital is entirely false and without foundation. In line with current policy and procedures at SVHG, any medical procedure which is in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Ireland will be carried out at the new hospital.

In conclusion the Board of SVHG noted recent media reports in which the Department of Education confirmed that their shareholders, the Religious Sisters of Charity, do not have any outstanding liabilities to the taxpayer relating to the Redress Scheme.

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