Sunday 23 October 2016

Government plans to move Rotunda will see northside left with no maternity hospital

Rotunda Hospital
Rotunda Hospital
Finian McGrath,Independent deputy for Dublin North-Central at Leinster House
Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown

A PLAN to move the capital's maternity hospitals - which will see no facility located on the city's northside - has been described as an "appalling decision".

The north city's only maternity hospital, the Rotunda, is to be moved to Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, west Dublin, under the plan announced by Health Minister Leo Varadkar.

In a radical shake-up of maternity services the Coombe Hospital is to move to nearby St James's in the south inner city and Mr Varadkar is forging ahead with previously-announced plans to move the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street to the St Vincent's campus on Merrion Road.

The loss of the Rotunda from the northside of the city centre last night raised concerns among local TDs.

Independent TD Finian McGrath said that it was an "appalling decision" that would outrage people, particularly expectant mothers.

"It is going to be extremely difficult for thousands of northside families, it's hard enough to access maternity services in this country without moving them out of population centres.

"The focus should always be on mother and baby safety and care," Deputy McGrath said.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou McDonald said she is concerned at the loss of the hospital in the northside.

"My first reaction when I saw the proposals was 'no maternity hospital on the northside', which would worry me," she said, adding that she gave birth to both her children in the Rotunda.

Ms McDonald said she welcomed investment in maternity care but that she will be discussing her concerns about the plans with Bill Maher, the chief executive of the RCSI hospital group - which includes the Rotunda and Connolly hospitals - on Friday.

Mr Maher last night said that he believes the move to Blanchardstown offers "huge benefits to mothers and babies".

Rotunda master Sam-Coulter-Smith welcomed it as a positive move and a "real indication" that Government is taking is issue of maternity services seriously.

It is understood that the Rotunda and Coombe hospitals won't move for at least five years.

The Coombe is to be tri-located with the adult hospital at St James's and the National Children's Hospital also planned for the site.

It is hoped that a planning application will be lodged later this year for the proposal to move Holles Street Hospital to St Vincent's.

The possibility of building the hospitals - estimated to cost around €150m each - under a public private partnership is being explored by the Government.

Both Mr Varadkar and the Tanaiste Joan Burton welcomed the decision to move the Rotunda to Blanchardstwon, which is in their Dublin West constituency.

Mr Varadkar admitted that he was initially concerned that it would be perceived as a political move though it was first recommended by the board of the Rotunda.

"The public rarely reward for promises… I don't see any flood of votes coming to me or the Tanaiste on this to be honest," he said.

Ms Burton called the move "a very positive development, given the population density of the north and west side of Dublin".

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