St James's hospital considers Mount Carmel takeover
THE STATE’S largest public hospital, St James’s in Dublin, is in talks that could see it taking over the private Mount Carmel hospital in the city.
In a statement yesterday St James’s confirmed it had had “very preliminary discussions” with Mount Carmel, aimed at “exploring the development of a link between the two hospitals”.
Mount Carmel is part of a group owned by developer Gerry Conlon, whose debts have been taken over by the National Asset Management Agency.
St James’s said it had advised Minister for Health James Reilly about the discussions.
The Minister had emphasised that “the interest of public patients must remain paramount in the development of any proposals”, the statement said.
Informed sources said a full buyout of Mount Carmel by St James’s was not the only option under consideration, and that alternatives could include the involvement of management at St James’s in the running of Mount Carmel.
Mount Carmel is one of three hospitals that form part of the Mount Carmel Medical Group established in 2003 and chaired by Kildare developer Mr Conlon. The other institutions in the group are Aut Even Hospital in Kilkenny and St Joseph’s in Sligo.
Mr Conlon was one of the so- called Maple 10 group of Anglo Irish Bank clients who were lent money by the bank to buy shares in it. His borrowings, including those associated with Mount Carmel, have been taken over by Nama.
The most recent set of accounts for the Mount Carmel Medical Group (South Dublin) Ltd, which operated the hospital, show it had net liabilities of €32 million in 2008.
Mr Conlon is best known for his sale of a 400-acre tract of land known as Millennium Business Park, which he co-owned, next to the M7 motorway in Naas, Co Kildare, for €320 million in 2006.
It is understood the talks with St James’s involve only Mount Carmel Hospital, which is based in Churchtown in south Dublin. It provides a range of medical and surgical services and is one of the last remaining private maternity units in the State.
St James’s was one of the sites chosen for the development of a co-located private hospital under controversial proposals put forward by former minister for health Mary Harney. Planning permission for the development was granted.
However, the proposal was shelved after the collapse of the co-location project.
The most recently published annual report for St James’s shows that in 2010 it had net assets of €242 million and cash of €21 million. The annual budget for the hospital was about €414 million, which was met through exchequer funding and other income.