The HSE says it regrets the decision by former master of the Coombe Dr Chris Fitzpatrick to resign from his role in planning the relocation of the National Maternity Hospital (NMH).
As reported in today’s Irish Times, Dr Fitzpatrick has resigned from the board overseeing the relocation of the hospital to a religious-owned site at St Vincent’s.
In a statement, the HSE thanked Dr Fitzpatrick for his work on the board as a representative of the clinical programme in obstetrics and gynaecology.
Dr Fitzpatrick said he has "no confidence" that the "significant changes" expected in obstetric practices over the next ten years will be provided at a hospital with "a strong Catholic ethos".
He said he had “no confidence that services that need to be provided, can be legally provided within the State, will in fact be provided on a campus that has a strong Catholic ethos, where the hospital is owned by a Catholic organisation, and where the board is constituted with a significant number of board members of that ethos.”
Speaking on RTE’s Today show, he said he would “find it hard to work under these circumstances”.
“To the casual bystander it must seem strange in 21st century to have a maternity hospital owned by a religious order.
“To hear references to triple lock, golden share - this is not the way to run a maternity hospital. It guarantees confusion.”
European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly said she was sad to hear of Dr Peter Boylan’s resignation from the board of the NMH and described the controversy over its transfer as “regrettable”.
Ms O'Reilly said she knows Dr Boylan to be a man of "great compassion and skill" and remarked that the citizens of Ireland will be concerned over the war of words regarding the ongoing disagreement about patronage of the facility.
“Knowing that man’s great compassion and skill I will say that I am personally very sad to see him sever his connection with that hospital, although I understand that he is still the governer there,” she said, adding:
“History will be the final judge of a saga that is most regrettable given the excellent intensely public-minded people involved on both sides.”
The former master of the Rotunda, Dr Sam Coulter Smith, has defended Ireland's maternity hospital system, saying the new hospital can be autonomous if current standards are followed.
“It must be very clear who’s in charge, who’s making the decisions and how those decisions are made, and who those decisions are reported to,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.
“There can’t be any interference from any outside body with any other interest.
“That’s what we have in the maternity hospitals at the moment. We have a mastership system. We’ve got a system that works.”