National Maternity Hospital must be publicly owned

03 May 2022
  • Bacik sought commitment from Taoiseach last week that final documents would be brought to Oireachtas before Cabinet sign off.
  • Oireachtas Health Committee should scrutinise deal before Government proceeds further.
  • Hospital must be publicly owned and built on public land.

With Cabinet due this week to approve the terms of the deal with the St Vincent’s Hospital group for the relocation of the National Maternity Hospital, Labour Party Leader Ivana Bacik has raised again her long standing concerns about the terms of the agreement, the need for full transparency and scrutiny, and Labour’s call for a publicly owned site and hospital.

Deputy Bacik said:

“We need clarity and transparency about the terms of the governance deal for the National Maternity hospital; we need to ensure effective scrutiny of the formula of words being used to guarantee the future of women’s reproductive healthcare, and crucially we also need an assurance that this will be a State owned hospital on public land.

“Our concerns about the independence, ownership and governance of the new National Maternity Hospital must be addressed. Before any final deal is approved, the Cabinet should refer the terms to the Oireachtas Health Committee for proper scrutiny.

“While the HSE board has approved the legal framework and constitution of the new hospital, it is significant that two members of the board dissented from that decision due to unresolved concerns regarding legal ownership of the site and building, and the governance and control of the proposed new maternity hospital.

“Dr. Peter Boylan has also raised concerns that the term “clinically appropriate” will be used in the National Maternity Hospital designated activity company document to qualify the obligation to provide all medical treatment to women, including abortion services.

“Further questions about the conditions attached to the new St Vincent’s Holdings following the transfer of land from the Religious Sisters of Charity must also be addressed.

“We need to ensure there is a commitment that all the necessary treatments that women require for our reproductive healthcare will be met in the new hospital and that there will be no qualifying words which might restrict the availability of necessary medical treatments in the hospital.

“As women across the world await the decision of the US Supreme Court on the rolling back of abortion rights in the United States, it is not acceptable that there would be any legal concerns in Ireland about our plans for a new flagship national maternity hospital.

“Since 2017, the Labour Party has been raising our concerns about the proposed governance model for the relocated National Maternity Hospital. We have consistently called for the site to be transferred into public ownership and/or purchased through a CPO.

“We all accept the need for a new maternity hospital; but with the massive level of the state investment involved, it is essential that we get this right – in order to safeguard access for women’s reproductive rights, rights which so many of us spent decades campaigning to see brought into law.”

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