This section briefly outlines the legal and operational governance of The National Maternity Hospital (NMH).
All Committee Lists are available at the end of this page.
NMH was established through charitable donations in 1894 and, in 1903 the NMH became a Corporation on receipt of its Charter from the Crown. The legal status of the NMH emanates from the Charter and subsequent legislation and in that respect is along the same lines as the other two major Dublin maternity hospitals.
Under the Charter, before its amendment, the control of NMH rested with the members of the Corporation known as Governors numbering up to 65 but the day to day operational control rested with the Master, an obstetrician and gynaecologist elected by the Governors.
NMH was rebuilt in 1930s and this opportunity was taken to amend the Charter by the National Maternity Hospital, Dublin (Charter Amendment) Act 1936 (the “Act”). The Act which increased the number of Governors up to 100 established an Executive Committee to manage the Corporation's property and affairs. The Governors elect the ordinary members of the Executive Committee at each Annual General Meeting and elect the Master once every seven years.
Executive Committee (the Board)
The Act devolved to an Executive Committee known as the Board, the governance, management, administration and control of the NMH and the property and affairs of the Corporation. The Master retains responsibility for the general management of the NMH between meetings of the Board. The Act was ahead of its time in introducing a gender quota and diversity on the Board. In line with a number of other hospitals and in the context of the Act being enacted not long after the Eucharistic Congress the chair of the Board is His Grace the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. The Archbishop has not been actively involved although is informed of significant developments. Also on the Board is Dublin’s first citizen, the Lord Mayor, who in recent years has taken an interest in the NMH and attended board meetings. The effective chair of the Board is the person, officially known as the Deputy Chair,who is elected at the first Board meeting following the Annual General Meeting in each year.
Certain board members are specified in the Act namely, in addition to the Master, the parish priest of Westland Row (in the 1930s the overwhelming majority of the mothers delivering babies would have been Roman Catholic); the public interest is represented by, in addition to the Lord Mayor, two nominations from Dublin Corporation and the Government’s interest is represented through the ability of the Minister for Health to appoint two nominees. There are two officers namely, the Honorary Treasurer and the Honorary Secretary. Of the others, the Act provides that there shall be not less than six women. In practice the 21 ordinary members of the Board, who are subject to annual election, are split equally between seven medical clinicians practising in the NMH, seven lay men and seven lay women. Thus the Board, consistent with modern day corporate governance, has a majority of non-executives currently drawn with a background of SME business, IT, financial (accountants, actuaries, brokering) and legal. The clinicians drawn from different medical divisions operating in the NMH provide the appropriate experience in the relevant fields of medicine necessary to the Board in its determinations. The Board meets monthly and considers issues raised by the Finance Committee and other Committees as well as legal issues including any cases taken against the NMH and strategic issues. Reports are given at the monthly Board meeting by the Master, the Director of Midwifery and Nursing and the Financial Controller and regular presentations are given to the Board from units of the NMH so the Board has a full understanding of the working of the NMH which informs the Board when making decisions on all aspects of the NMH.
The Act maintains the successful system of the Mastership (a seven year term which cannot be renewed by the incumbent or a former Master) without which the NMH could not be run in the safe manner in which it currently operates for the annual delivery of approximately 9,000 new lives. The Master is ably assisted by the Director of Midwifery and Nursing, the Secretary & General Manager and the Financial Controller.
NMH's equivalent to a company's articles of association are its Bye-laws and Regulations introduced in 1955 which have been amended on a number of occasions since. Under the Regulations there are seven sub-committees of the Board namely a Finance Committee, a QRPS Committee, an NMH Executive Ethics Committee, a House Committee, a Nominations Committee, an Audit Committee and a Co-Location Committee. The proceedings of the Board and Committees are conducted within the requirements of two codes adopted early in 2017.
The Finance Committee consists of the Executive Management Team of NMH, namely the Master (effectively the CEO), the Secretary & General Manager (effectively the COO), the Director of Midwifery and Nursing and the Financial Controller together with five lay representatives, namely the Deputy Chairman, the Honorary Treasurer, the Honorary Secretary and two members of the Executive Committee. The Finance Committee meets monthly dealing principally with financial and strategic matters which effectively covers all matters pertaining to the continual management of the NMH, accounts, income, expenditure both current and capital, budgets, retirements, resignations and replacements, insurance, procurement and regulatory matters and correspondence with the Department of Health, the HSE and Ireland East Hospitals Group. It reports to the Board monthly.
The other six committees meet regularly.