Patients' group warns on hospital 'stroke' politics
The decision to develop a major new maternity hospital needs to be "free from politics" and must put the interests of expectant mothers first, a patients rights group has warned the Government.
The warning comes as a Department of Health review is expected to recommend that the Rotunda maternity hospital in Dublin city centre be moved to the campus of Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown.
The hospital is in the Dublin West constituency of Health Minister Leo Varadkar and Tanaiste and Labour party leader Joan Burton, who will be battling for re-election next year.
The original request by the Rotunda was to be relocated on the site of the nearby Mater Hospital in Dublin, where its obstetric patients who develop serious complications are currently transferred.
However, it was later placed in a hospital group with Connolly and Beaumont Hospitals in north Dublin.
Connolly is now regarded as the preferred site for a rebuilt Rotunda in the coming years.
Minister Varadkar previously stated that a move by his predecessor James Reilly to add a location in his constituency to a list of primary care sites "looked like" 'stroke' politics.
Last night, the Irish Patients' Association said the decision to relocate the new hospital adjacent to an existing hospital was in line with best practice.
However the association's chief executive said whatever decision was taken in relation to the new site for the Rotunda needed to be "free from politics".
"This is obviously something that needs to be addressed but to be addressed in a way that isn't political," Stephen McMahon told the Herald.
"That means it needs to find the best solution for expectant mothers that are using that facility in some more modern setting that meets modern day standards,"
Mr McMahon added that the Government needed to act with "transparency" and outline clearly the criteria for whatever site is ultimately selected.
"I think it is also important that the views of patients who will be availing of the services are taken into account - for example, groups that would provide post-natal depression services and others like this."
Nurses' union boss Liam Doran said Connolly Hospital would make a good location as it is close to the M50 and there is previously acquired land there already, which would keep costs down.
"The most overriding thing here is that the Rotunda is no longer fit for purpose, so it is crucial the new investment is made as quickly as possible," he said.
A spokesperson for Minister Varadkar said that it has been decided Holles St Hospital will move to St Vincent's and added any decision in relation to the Coombe Hospital and the Rotunda would be based only what is in the best interest of patients.
"No decision has been taken about where either of these hospitals should be located. The review is expected to be completed in the near future," he said.