Hospital talks of rationing beds due to baby boom


A BABY boom will force Holles Street Hospital in Dublin to ration beds unless it gets more money from the Department of Health, warns the hospital's Master Peter Boylan.

The hospital may also have to close its maternity clinic in Naas, Co Kildare, unless it gets extra funding, he says.

The Kildare Faculty of the Irish College of General Practitioners says the closure would undermine the quality of ante-natal care for less well off women in the county.

Births at the National Maternity Hospital rose by 14 per cent last year, says Dr Boylan. The number of mothers having their first baby rose by 25 per cent.

Hue met the Minister for Health, Mr Noonan, last week to discuss the problem and will meet Department officials this week.

The rise in births is due to the economic boom, he says, with women of child bearing age staying at home instead of emigrating. But he says the other Dublin maternity hospitals have not experienced a similar increase.

Last year the hospital delivered 7,250 babies compared with 6,600 the year before. To cope with the increase, the hospital needs about £500,000 more than the £13.3 million allocated by the Department of Health.

"We can only deliver 50 many women given our Department of Health grant," he says.

In the absence of an increase, the hospital will have to limit admissions to 550 a month from July.

The Naas clinic has existed for about 30 years and provides a valuable service to less well off people, he says. "We don't want to close it and we would be very unhappy about closing it."

Rationing beds "would be very difficult and unfair to women who have to have their babies somewhere."

Whatever hospital the women go to, he says, their treatment has to be funded and he had been making this argument to the Department.

The Department says the hospital's budget for this year "represents an increase of over £400,000, or 3.2 per cent over the 1996 allocation, and it is considered that this level of funding should enable the hospital to deliver a level of obstetric activity, at a minimum, at 1996 levels.