Maternity group calls for clarification on future services at hospital

AIMS Ireland says it has been ‘inundated’ with calls from women using maternity services

The planned relocation of the National Maternity Hospital to St Vincent's hospital should not go ahead unless ownership issues cannot be sorted out, according to a group representing women using maternity services.

AIMS Ireland says one option for future maternity services would be to build two new "super-hospitals" on other locations and provide a network of midwife-led units, as suggested in the Government's national maternity strategy.

The group says it has been “inundated” by contacts from women using maternity services who are seeking clarity on the controversy over the move of the NMH to a religious-owned site at St Vincent’s.

At a press conference, it called on the Religious Sisters of Charity, which owns the site, to detail exactly what services will and will not be possible at the hospital.


It also called on the Government to clarify the position on future church/State partnerships to be funded with public money.

"We want definitive answers to the following questions from the Sisters of Charity," said Krysia Lynch, chair of AIMS (Association for the Improvement of Maternity Services).

“If the Eighth Amendment is repealed and abortion legalised, will this be carried out on the site?

“If a woman wishes to have a medical sterilisation through choice, can that procedure be carried out under the agreement between the NMH and St Vincent’s?”

"In short, what will and will not be vetoed at this hospital. Until Minister for Health Simon Harris has the answers, from the owners of the hospitals themselves, he cannot be expected to put a cent of public money towards funding it."

The order could take the heat out of the controversy by publishing the ethos it is “duty bound” to impose on the new hospital, she suggested.

Meanwhile, a pro-choice group has said it is organising a protest in Dublin on May 7th against the decision to grant ownership of the NMH to the order.

“As parents, we are protesting to protect our maternity care and our daughters’ future care.

"We want to ensure that healthcare facilities paid for by the people of Ireland are accountable to and run by the people of Ireland," said Parents for Choice spokesperson Sinéad Redmond.

An online petition calling for the transfer of ownership to be “blocked” has been signed by almost 97,000 people.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times