Maternity shake-up hit by funds cutback
SCHEME: Holles Street forced to rethink new facilities
THE NATIONAL Maternity Hospital has been forced to scale down plans for a vital extension over a lack of funding.
The facility at Holles Street has now submitted new proposals to Dublin City Council -- 10 months after the original project was given the go-ahead.
The HSE informed the hospital last December that the money was not available to construct a six-storey extension.
This came after An Bord Pleanala had granted permission for the scheme at the end of an 18-month planning process.
Instead of a six-storey building, the hospital is now looking to build a two-storey extension at the third and fourth floor of the existing facility, according to documents lodged with the city council this week.
It is proposed to locate the development to the rear of the hospital.
A spokeswoman for Holles Street told the Herald that they have been trying to develop the site "for a long time now" because of the "very high levels of activity" at the hospital.
She added that they have had to apply for the scaled-down project "due to funding".
"It's a smaller project than what we were originally trying to do," the spokeswoman said.
"At the moment, the hospital is proceeding on the basis that there will be funding available."
A HSE spokesman admitted that the original interim development for the hospital had been suspended.
It is "under review due to the KPMG report on Dublin maternity services and potential relocation", he said.
"In the interim, the hospital has been granted €1.8m for the provision of a new theatre and associated facilities to meet current needs. The HSE is committed to funding this project," the spokesman added.
If approved, the additional section will house a new operating theatre, leading to the stepping down of the smaller of the existing theatres.
The plan to expand was embarked on in 2008 after the HSE was told facilities in the hospital were resulting in lawsuits.
Health chiefs approved the expansion four years after an internal report told them inadequate facilities and staffing were a factor in patients successfully suing the hospital for poor birth outcomes.
Details of the 2004 report showed that courts were finding the hospital negligent for not adequately monitoring mothers before they are transferred to delivery wards.
In one case, a €3m award was made to a child born with cerebral palsy.
The plaintiff's solicitor in the case stated that following induction of labour the mother was not sufficiently monitored.
Another major factor in seeking to extend was the increase in births in recent years.
The three main maternity hospitals -- the Coombe Women's Hospital, the National Maternity Hospital and the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin -- all saw rises in births again last year.
In the first nine months of 2009, the Coombe experienced a 4pc rise, the Rotunda's birth numbers were up by 2pc and the National Maternity Hospital's newborns were up by 0.5pc.