Dáil debates

Thursday, 12 May 2022

National Maternity Hospital: Statements


2:05 pm

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Social Democrats) | Oireachtas source

That is the very point. It is baffling that the Minister is not prepared to provide a definition. I put it to him that there is no equivalence between the phrase “clinically appropriate” and names of different branches of medicine. That is a completely different thing. The term “clinically appropriate” is open to ambiguity. Even those who are in favour of this project are interpreting it in different ways. For example, the obstetrician, Professor Mary Higgins, says that it means future-proofing. However, that is not the case. We know that we can provide a list and we can future-proof that by simply saying, “but not limited to”.

The Minister and the Taoiseach have both said that the meaning of that phrase is to be very clear that it is only maternity-related services that are to be provided. Yet, we discovered just in the last few days that dermatology is to be provided in that building. Who knows what other services will be provided and who knows whether they are public or private and what that is all about? We also know that Professor Shane Higgins believes that the term means that this is to be clear about the services that will be performed at the new hospital. Clearly, therefore, there is a lot of confusion and whole series of different interpretations of that phrase. The Minister has committed to providing a note to the health committee to explain his understanding of that. If he is prepared to do that, why would he not be prepared to provide a definition in the legal documents?


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