The Religious Sisters of Charity will be not be involved in the ownership or management of the new National Maternity Hospital, it has been confirmed.
The Sisters have announced that they will relinquish ownership of three hospitals – St Vincent’s University Hospital, where the new maternity hospital is to be built, St Vincent’s Private Hospital and St Michael’s Hospital.
Several weeks ago it was revealed that because the Sisters owned St Vincent’s University Hospital, and they are the shareholders of the St Vincent’s Healthcare Group (SVHG), they would be the sole owners of the new maternity hospital.
This led to widespread anger among the public and some high profile figures, including the former Master of the National Maternity Hospital, Dr Peter Boylan, who described the new ownership structure as ‘completely wrong’.
However in a statement, the Sisters said that for the last two years, they have been ‘actively working to find the best way to relinquish our shareholding of the SVHG’.
As part of this, a new company called St Vincent’s is to be formed. This will have charitable status and it will replace the Sisters as the shareholders in the SVHG.
The Sisters’ two representatives on the current board of the SVHG resigned with immediate effect and the Sisters will no longer have the right to appoint directors to that board.
“Just as our founder, Mary Aikenhead, saw the need in 1834 to establish a hospital to meet the needs of the sick and poor, we believe that it is in the best interests of the patients and children born in the National Maternity Hospital today that they be provided with modern maternity and neonatal services that are women and infant centred and integrated within the Elm Park campus.
“It is now time for us to relinquish completely our involvement in SVHG. We are confident that the board, management and staff of SVHG will continue to maintain a steadfast dedication to providing the best possible acute healthcare to patients and their families in line with the values espoused by Mary Aikenhead,”commented Sr Mary Christian, congregational leader of the Sisters.
Speaking about the decision, the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, described it as a ‘very significant development for the healthcare sector’.
“The timing of this historic decision is very welcome. It directly addresses concerns regarding the question of religious influence in the new National Maternity Hospital and further illustrates the constructive role of the Sisters to facilitate this landmark project,” he said.
Meanwhile, the chairperson of the SVHG, James Menton, said that these are ‘major developments’. He added that the board, management and staff of SVHG are ‘absolutely committed to upholding the vision and values of Mary Aikenhead – namely dignity, compassion, justice, quality and advocacy – which result in the best possible outcomes for our patients and their families’.
St. Vincent’s will initially have a ‘transition board’ for a limited period (maximum one year). During this time a full board of directors will be appointed and these will have required skill sets in law, finance, healthcare and social care.
Upon completion of this process, the members of the ‘transition board’ will resign from the Board of St. Vincent’s.
These proposals are subject to implementation of all necessary legal, financial and regulatory matters. (Irishhealth.com)