Letter to Government on hospital move to Elm Park

By admin, Thursday, 24th February 2022 | 0 comments

Dear Taoiseach and Minister Donnelly,

We are writing in relation to the ongoing public debate about the future of the National Maternity Hospital. All 52 signatories of this letter are former or current clinicians at the hospital where the staff are endeavouring every day to provide the best possible care to women and infants that can be achieved from a small, city centre campus.

We are extremely concerned that a combination of misinformation and misunderstanding is disturbing both our staff and patients, present and future and jeopardising the impetus to progress the long overdue relocation of the hospital to the St. Vincent’s Campus at Elm Park. 

Any further delay in approving this project damages the interests of the women and infants who are grossly ill-served by the existing cramped facility at Holles Street, which is no longer fit for purpose, with buildings that are almost 100 years old.

Buildings of this vintage were never designed to provide modern healthcare and it is unacceptable that we rely on the operation of “Nightingale” wards where up to 14 women occupy the ward with only a curtain separating beds, and minimal toilet and shower facilities.

Concerns being raised that the new maternity hospital will be curtailed by any religious ethos are misleading and ill-informed. We want to reassure you, and more importantly the women of Ireland, that the NMH currently has no constraints on the procedures it offers patients, and that this will continue when the hospital moves.

This means that all obstetric, neonatal and gynaecological care permissible within Irish law will be available, including abortion, tubal ligation, gender affirming surgery and assisted reproduction. Those who argue to the contrary are derailing a vital national healthcare project that has already been delayed for far too long.

Concerns have also been raised about the ownership of the hospital, with the suggestion that only under full state ownership can the avoidance of religious influence be assured. Again this is manifestly false.

As you well know the HSE licence for the new hospital will include unbreakable legal stipulations requiring the provision of all the forms of treatment outlined above. The ownership debate is a red herring as a hospital can be built on land owned by another party with the lease terms ensuring that the owner has no hand act or part in how the hospital runs its operations.

We are aware that the Government requires the collaboration of a wide range of stakeholders in order for the project to proceed. It is important, therefore, that the transfer of the shares in St Vincent’s to the independent holding entity is speedily finalised, so that it in turn can agree lease arrangements with the State. We hope that you will continue to push for this process to be completed so that the required final Cabinet decision can be made.

As clinicians at the coalface of providing services to women and infants we are acutely aware of the tragedy it would be if the move to Elm Park does not proceed. It has taken leadership and collaboration to get to the stage we are at, and it is now imperative that you approve the relocation despite the pressures that there are from those pushing a negative narrative that may be well-intentioned but is not based on the facts.

The Elm Park site offers the clinical ideal of colocation with a Level 4 Hospital, and gives the best opportunity of providing the highest standard of care. Given the close working relationship that already exists between the NMH and St Vincent’s Hospital (c.40% of the consultant staff at the NMH already work between the two hospitals at present), the rationale for the move is clear.

With a cast-iron guarantee provided that the new hospital will provide all services legally permissible, the project’s critics should have no fears in this regard. As International Women’s Day approaches on the 8th March, we appeal to all involved to keep their eye on the prize of a world leading safe maternity hospital for the women and infants of Ireland.

Yours sincerely,


Prof Shane Higgins (Master)

Dr Rhona Mahony (former Master)

Dr Michael Robson (former Master)

Prof Declan Keane (former Master)

Prof Fionnuala McAuliffe

Prof Donal Brennan

Dr Clare O’Connor

Dr Laoise O’Brien

Dr Donal O’Brien

Dr David Crosby

Dr Peter McParland

Dr Gerry Agnew

Dr Lucia Hartigan

Dr Nita Adnan

Dr Stephen Carroll

Dr Jenny Walsh

Dr Fiona Martyn

Dr Siobhan Corcoran

Dr Mona Joyce

Dr Orla Sheil

Dr Ruaidhri McVeigh

Dr Zara Fonseca Kelly

Dr Cathy Allen

Prof Mary Higgins

Dr Grainne Flannelly

Prof Mary Wingfield

Dr Peter Lenehan

Dr John F Murphy

Ms Mary Brosnan (DOMN)

Dr Anne Twomey

Dr Eoin O’Currain

Dr Jyothsna Purna

Dr Deirdre Sweetman

Prof Colm O’Donnell

Dr Lisa McCarthy

Dr Anna Curley

Prof John Murphy

Dr Roger McMorrow

Dr Siobhan McGuinness

Dr Siaghal MacColgain

Dr Robert Ffrench O’Carroll

Dr Nikki Higgins

Dr Larry Crowley

Dr Ingrid Browne

Dr Carla Canniffe

Dr Gabrielle Colleran

Dr Samantha Doyle

Dr Joan Fitzgerald

Dr Eoghan Mooney

Dr Paul Downey

Dr Mensud Hatunic

Dr Susan Knowles