Har­ris: Nuns will not be run­ning hospi­tal

Irish Daily Mail - - News - By Neil Michael Chief Re­porter neil.michael@dailymail.ie

‘No re­li­gious or­der can profit’ New com­pany set up to run hospi­tal

SI­MON Har­ris yes­ter­day vowed that no con­tracts will be signed off be­fore the Gov­ern­ment is sat­is­fied that the new Na­tional Ma­ter­nity Hospi­tal will be run with­out re­li­gious in­ter­fer­ence.

Re­spond­ing to the grow­ing clam­our for the Sis­ters of Char­ity to be blocked from hav­ing sole own­er­ship of the Elm Park site, the Heath Min­is­ter yes­ter­day rushed to re­as­sure peo­ple.

The re­li­gious con­gre­ga­tion’s own­er­ship, via a health­care com­pany they are the ma­jor share­hold­ers in, was con­firmed by Mr Har­ris on Mon­day.

Yes­ter­day, the min­is­ter said it was ‘not true’ nuns will be run­ning the hospi­tal and that the is­sue of re­dress still owed to the State by the Sis­ters of Char­ity over child abuse was a sep­a­rate is­sue.

‘I have heard le­git­i­mate ques­tions and opin­ions in re­cent days,’ he said yes­ter­day. ‘Be­fore this project pro­ceeds be­yond the plan­ning per­mis­sion phase, this new hospi­tal must be de­vel­oped in line with best in­ter­na­tional prac­tice for ma­ter­nity hospitals.

‘The hospi­tal must have clin­i­cal, op­er­a­tional and fi­nan­cial in­de­pen­dence, with no ques­tion of re­li­gious in­ter­fer­ence and with a role for the Min­is­ter for Health of the day to guar­an­tee this.’

Mr Har­ris added that ‘the State’s fi­nan­cial and pub­lic health in­ter­est in this hospi­tal must be fully pro­tected’.

He said: ‘No pri­vate entity or re­li­gious or­der can profit in any way. The build­ing can only be used for the de­fined pur­pose of pro­vid­ing pub­lic ma­ter­nity, gy­nae­co­log­i­cal and neona­tal ser­vices.

‘Ro­bust con­trac­tual ar­range­ments must be put in place to make sure that this is a re­al­ity.’

He added: ‘Be­fore any con­tracts are en­tered into, th­ese cri­te­ria must be sat­is­fied in full.

Mr Har­ris said that he had for­mally writ­ten to the HSE on the mat­ter and that he ex­pected all of the is­sues to be ad­dressed as part of the con­trac­tual ar­range­ments which will be put in place in ad­vance of con­struc­tion begin­ning.

He re­marked: ‘In all such cases, where the HSE un­der­take cap­i­tal devel­op­ment, le­gal mech­a­nisms are put in place to en­sure that the State’s in­vest­ment is pro­tected and that the fa­cil­i­ties are se­cured for the con­tin­ued use of pub­lic pa­tients. This must and will be the case in re­la­tion to the new Ma­ter­nity Hospi­tal.’

Re­spond­ing to is­sues raised by Dr Peter Boy­lan on Morn­ing Ire­land, he in­sisted the nuns will not make any fi­nan­cial gain from the co-lo­ca­tion deal and that they will not run the €300mil­lion hospi­tal, which, it is hoped, will be fin­ished by 2021.

‘There will be no fi­nan­cial gain to any re­li­gious or­der from the devel­op­ment of this hospi­tal,’ Mr Har­ris said. ‘I have heard peo­ple say that nuns will be run­ning the hospi­tal. Not true. I have heard that nuns have been gifted the hospi­tal. Not true. I have heard peo­ple talk about nuns and re­dress.

‘Re­dress is ex­tremely im­por­tant and I have pre­vi­ously said that the re­li­gious or­ders must step up to the mark and pay what is long over­due.

‘How­ever, I think it is wrong to con­flate re­dress with the de­ci­sion to build the des­per­ately needed new ma­ter­nity hospi­tal.’

A row over the re­lo­ca­tion of the Na­tional Ma­ter­nity Hospi­tal to the St Vin­cent’s cam­pus first broke out last year amid con­cerns over who would con­trol it.

St Vin­cent’s had wanted the board of the NMH to be sub­sumed into its own board.

But the NMH, based at Holles Street in Dublin city cen­tre, in­sisted on re­tain­ing its own board, with an ob­ste­tri­cian or ‘mas­ter’ serv­ing as its chief ex­ec­u­tive, with con­trol over fund­ing.

The row saw former NMH mas­ter Dr Boy­lan warn that as the St Vin­cent’s hospi­tal group is run by the Sis­ters of Char­ity, they could at­tempt to im­pose a re­li­gious ethos on the run­ning of the new ma­ter­nity hospi­tal.

In June 2016, former Labour Court chair­man Kieran Mul­vey was ap­pointed to me­di­ate talks. In the end, an agree­ment was reached which would see a new com­pany, the Na­tional Ma­ter­nity Hospi­tal at Elm Park, set up to op­er­ate the new hospi­tal. The com­pany will be 100% owned by the St Vin­cent’s hospi­tal group, but would en­joy clin­i­cal and op­er­a­tional in­de­pen­dence in the provi­sion of ma­ter­nity, gy­nae­col­ogy, ob­stet­rics and neona­tal ser­vices, un­der the deal bro­kered by Mr Mul­vey. The ex­ist­ing role of mas­ter of Holles Street is also re­tained un­der the new set-up.

Both the NMH and St Vin­cent’s agreed that a ‘spe­cial golden share’ would be cre­ated to pro­vide le­gal pro­tec­tion for the re­served pow­ers held by the com­pany.

Vow: Si­mon Har­ris with a model of the new Na­tional Ma­ter­nity Hospi­tal

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