Agreed ‘direction’ reached on new National Maternity Hospital deal
St Vincent’s outline they are “awaiting the final legal documents” to conclude the deal
Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall: “serious concerns” that a “fudge” would be reached. Photograph: Eric Luke
A framework agreement over the ownership of the new €300 million National Maternity Hospital (NMH) has been reached between the Department of Health and St Vincent’s Healthcare Group, the group has said.
A spokeswoman for St Vincent’s said it had “agreed with the Department of Health the framework” for the hospital’s ownership, and were “awaiting the final legal documents from the department”.
However, one source familiar with the negotiations played down the idea that an announcement of a concluded deal was imminent. The two sides have an “agreed direction” on the negotiated points, which legal representatives will now have to draw up in formal documentation, which may take some time.
It is believed there may be a degree of further back-and-forth between the legal representatives over the drafting of a legal document on the deal before the agreement is signed off.
“You’ve got the overall direction that you’re putting a legal framework around,” one source said.
The arrangement over the ownership of the planned maternity hospital on the south Dublin Elm Park campus has been the subject of discussions for the last nine months. The department would not outline the terms of the deal until it was signed off, other than to state the framework “will protect the State’s significant investment in the hospital”.
Preparatory works for the new hospital’s construction are already due to begin in the next number of months. The Health Service Executive recently advertised for a construction contractor to begin enabling works ahead of the development, who will be selected to begin work before the summer.
The contract for the works will be worth more than €13 million and will include work on gas and electricity supply, drainage diversions and excavation work. The design work and plans for the enabling works have continued while negotiations have been taking place over the last number of months.
Following the preparatory works and the finalising of a completed design, another tender competition will be launched for the maternity hospital construction contract itself.
Protracted discussions between the State, St Vincent’s Hospital and other stakeholders have been ongoing since May 2017. The negotiations were around whether the hospital will remain in State ownership, the ownership of the land itself, if rent would be paid under a lease-type agreement, and if the NMH will remain a voluntary body separate from the State’s balance sheet.
Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall said she had “serious concerns” that a “fudge” would be reached where a license-type agreement is granted, without a lien. A lien on the property would mean it could not be sold by St Vincent’s without the approval of the State.