Harris pledges no 'religious interference' in new maternity hospital

Harris pledges no 'religious interference' in new maternity hospital

'The new company will have clinical and operational independence in the provision of maternity, gynaecology and neonatal services, without religious, ethnic or other distinction, as well as financial and budgetary independence'.

"I'm not sure exactly what the decision is there or what the plan is but I think it's important that it is clarified but I'm sure Simon Harris will do that", he said.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has stood by the decision, tweeting: 'When it comes to our maternity services, I take the views of those responsible for the delivery of infants & the clinical care of women'.

It's after it emerged that full ownership of the facility would be given to the Sisters of Charity on whose land it's to be build.

The hospital will be co-located on the Elm Park site at St Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin.

"This new hospital must be developed in line with best worldwide practice for maternity hospitals and be co-located with an adult acute hospital in order to ensure that women and infants have access to a full range of medical specialties".

However, Rhona Mahony, Master of Holles Street maternity hospital, has stridently defended the move and insisted the hospital will be fully independent and that independence will be protected by a "triple lock system".

The Health Minister has called on an order of nuns to agree contracts allowing lawful abortion or contraceptive treatment in the new National Maternity Hospital.

Harris said: "Questions have been raised about financial benefits to the Sisters of Charity due to the maternity hospital being developed on their campus".

Around 200 protestors gathered this lunchtime, calling for the nuns to have no part in the running of the hospital.

Political parties have been ramping up the pressure today, with Fianna Fáil saying that the public deserves answers as to how the situation arose, and Labour saying that it is "unacceptable for that volume of public money to be allocated and owned by any private entity".

"In doing so, they have foregone the opportunity to put this land to alternative use", he said.

He said that the Sisters of Charity were in "serious breach of commitments given to the State regarding payments for redress for survivors of institutional abuse and should not be rewarded by being made sole owners of the new 300 million euro National Maternity Hospital". That is not an acceptable deal, he said.

It should be in public ownership, democratically controlled.
The Minister for Health will have the power to guarantee this to ensure all relevant and legal healthcare must be available.

"Can we get real about this", the leading consultant said.

She added that the location of the new maternity hospital right beside St. Vincent's Hospital is safer for women and represented "the future of healthcare".

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