Plan to move National Maternity Hospital to St Vincent’s stalemated

Simon Harris wants a public-interest director on board of the new institution

The National Maternity Hospital, on Holles Street, Dublin 2. On Sunday, Mr Harris insisted he was not “meddling” in the €300 million move to Dublin 4. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The National Maternity Hospital, on Holles Street, Dublin 2. On Sunday, Mr Harris insisted he was not “meddling” in the €300 million move to Dublin 4. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

The proposed move of the National Maternity Hospital to a new building at St Vincent’s University Hospital remains stalemated over a demand from the Minister for Health for a public-interest director on the board of the new institution.

Simon Harris said he thought it “fair” the State should have a “seat at the table” of the new entity.

That would mean a change to the deal brokered between the two hospitals by former Labour Court chairman Kieran Mulvey in 2017, which provides the NMH and SVUH four seats each on the board of a company to be set up to run the new hospital.

Mr Mulvey was brought in to mediate following intense controversy over the governance of the new maternity hospital, sparked by claims control would rest with the Sisters of Charity who own St Vincent’s. The order has since said it was withdrawing from ownership of St Vincent’s.

Not ‘meddling’

On Sunday, Mr Harris insisted he was not “meddling” in the €300 million project but was “absolutely determined” to build a state of the art maternity hospital on the ground of St Vincent’s.

The two hospitals have jointly warned that the contracts to start moving infrastructure from Holles Street to St Vincent’s must be signed by the end of the year to meet building regulations.

“Failure to sign these contracts, estimated at €22 million, will result in further delay but also a significant increase in the cost of the overall project due to the requirement to redesign and resubmit the plan to An Bord Pleanála. ”

The hospitals urged Mr Harris and his department to “act with urgency” and ensure construction gets under way.

End of year

Last October, NMH chairman Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said work on the pharmacy and car park had to get under way by the end of the year under European energy legislative requirements for new buildings – and that if it did not happen “the whole project will effectively fold, and everything would go back to square one”.

Mr Justice Kearns said there was a perception in Holles Street that the department had an animus toward it arising from the judicial review proceedings the hospital had brought.