Maternity hospital relocation dispute may go before agm

Former master Peter Boylan has written to board seeking objection put on agenda

The dispute over the relocation of the National Maternity Hospital to St Vincent's University Hospital looks set to come before the NMH's annual general meeting next month.

Former NMH master Dr Peter Boylan has written to the board of the hospital seeking to have his objection to the relocation plan put on the agenda of the agm in June.

As reported by The Irish Times on Saturday, Dr Boylan has called for the resignation of deputy chairman Nicky Kearns over his handling of the project. The call, made in a lengthy letter sent last week, was rejected by the board, which accused Dr Boylan of attempting to "obstruct or derail this vital project for women and their babies".

Dr Boylan has now sent a further letter to the board seeking to have his earlier communication placed on the agenda for the agm and circulated to governors in advance.

‘Substantive issues’

He alleges neither the deputy chairman nor the board has engaged with the “substantive issues” he has raised, and therefore “it is now appropriate” the governors are given the chance to consider them.

In the letter, he also objects to the assertion he is trying to obstruct or derail the relocation project. "I wholly support a move to Elm Park but only if the hospital maintains completely independent clinical and corporate governance in the interests of safe care for women."

The relocation project is backed by both the NMH and St Vincent’s, but has been beset by controversy, in particular relating to concerns over ethos. While the Sisters of Charity are withdrawing from all involvement with St Vincent’s, this process has yet to be completed and the project is well behind schedule.

Under legislation dating back to the early 20th century, control of the maternity hospital lies with it 79 governors, who include Dr Boylan. However, its affairs are managed by an executive committee (board).

No role

By law, the Archbishop of Dublin is the chairman of the maternity hospital, but the incumbent, Diarmuid Martin, plays no role in the running of the NMH, so that Mr Kearns as deputy chairman is effectively the chair.

Dr Boylan says in the letter the delays are due to the non-completion of the order's transfer of their shareholding in St Vincent's, which required Vatican permission; the failure of St Vincent's to form a new holding company; and the failure of the NMH to formulate a legal agreement to be put to the governors for agreement.

“Clearly I am not responsible for any of the above.”

An NMH spokesman said: The progress towards the new hospital was always going to be discussed at the agm. Of course the correspondence will be circulated to governors in advance”.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times