Dáil debates

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Maternity Services Provision

4:40 pm

Photo of Catherine ByrneCatherine Byrne (Dublin South Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

The Minister for Health cannot be here and I have been asked to take this Topical Issue matter on his behalf. I will refer back to some of the issues raised by the Deputy. On behalf of the Minister, I thank the Deputy for raising this important matter today. First, I would like to provide some background information on the decision to relocate the Rotunda Hospital to the Connolly Hospital campus. I am very familiar with the Rotunda Hospital where my mother, a number of my children and other relatives of mine have had their children. I know the history of the Rotunda and its expertise and I know the master very well.

In line with best international practice, it is Government policy that stand-alone maternity hospitals should be co-located with acute adult hospitals to provide optimal clinical outcomes. This commitment is reaffirmed in the national maternity strategy, which was published in January 2016. As the Deputy will be aware, the new children's hospital was originally planned for the Mater Hospital site and it was proposed, as recommended in the KPMG report from 2008 entitled Independent Review of Maternity and Gynaecology Services in the Greater Dublin Area, to redevelop the Rotunda Hospital on the Mater Hospital site.

In 2012, the Government decided to locate the new children's hospital at the St. James's campus. A detailed review was undertaken by the Department of Health, which considered a number of potential host sites for both hospitals. This review examined a range of factors, including demographics, a range of clinical criteria, planning risks and site capacity. In addition, the Department engaged with a number of divisions within the HSE and with the then masters of both the Rotunda and the Coombe as part of the review process.

In June 2015, the Government decided that the Coombe would be relocated to the St. James's Hospital campus while the Rotunda would be redeveloped on the Connolly Hospital campus. More recently the Minister for Health has also engaged with the master of the Rotunda, the RCSI hospital group and the HSE regarding the relocation of the Rotunda to Connolly Hospital. This included holding a meeting with these parties in July of this year.

In terms of funding the Rotunda relocation project, Project Ireland 2040 provides €10.9 billion for health capital developments throughout the country, including funding to support implementation of the national maternity strategy. The relocation of the Rotunda Hospital is one of the key infrastructure projects that will be funded under Project Ireland 2040. However, it is important that we carefully plan all capital projects to meet population health needs and achieve value for money. As I understand it, this work is ongoing.

While the Minister for Health is not in a position to outline the year-on-year provisions for any individual maternity hospital project at this stage, this will be considered through the process of the determination of service priorities and in the context of health capital planning. I can assure the House that the Government is committed to implementing its policy to co-locate all stand-alone maternity hospitals with adult acute hospitals. As the Deputy will appreciate, the Rotunda relocation project is at an early stage and will be required to progress through appraisal, planning, design and tender before a firm timeline or funding requirement can be established. I have been advised that the project briefs for the relocation of the Rotunda, as well as the Coombe and University Maternity Hospital Limerick, to acute hospital campuses will be progressed in 2020.


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