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Varadkar announces sites for redevelopment of all three Dublin maternity hospitals

A review of the proposed sites for the development of maternity hospitals in Dublin was necessary following the Government’s decision to develop the new children’s hospital at the St James’s campus, and the need to develop a maternity hospital on that site.

The Minister said he has accepted his Department’s recommendation that the Coombe should relocate to St James’s and the Rotunda should now move to the Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown site. An earlier decision was made to move the National Maternity Hospital from Holles Street to the campus at St Vincent’s University Hospital. However, no timelines or dedicated funding – a minimum of €150 million for each hospital – have been given for completion of the moves. While the Holles Street move is at a more advanced stage, progress has stalled in recent months due to an ongoing row between St VIncent’s and the HSE. Minister Varadkar said he had written to St Vincent’s urging the hospital not to let rivalry or other issues get in the way of the project.

The announcement today means that all three Dublin maternity hospitals will at a future stage be located alongside major adult teaching hospitals. The Department said it consulted widely to take account not only of the current attendance patterns at the hospitals but also looked to see how access for patients could be improved.

Minister Varadkar said: “While the Rotunda and the Coombe have served Dublin and the country well as standalone hospitals, current best practice is to co-locate maternity hospitals with adult acute hospitals. Both hospitals need significant capital investment, particularly the Rotunda, which is more than a century old in parts.

“Rebuilding these hospitals on new campus sites will be safer for mothers and will ensure access to a full range of specialised services like intensive care, cardiology and other specialties when needed, without necessitating patient transfer. Tri-location with paediatric services further enhances the clinical benefits for the sickest new-born babies for the same reasons. Today’s announcement is clear evidence of the Government’s commitment to improving and modernising maternity care in Ireland. We will now need to examine funding models so that we can deliver the new facilities as early as possible.

Welcoming the announcement, Dr Sharon Sheehan, Master of the Coombe said: “The tri-location model of maternity, paediatric, and adult services, will, I believe, enhance the quality of care provided to women and children across the country, and as such, we fully endorse the development of the new children’s hospital at St James’s, and we welcome the opportunity to be the maternity hospital within this tri-located model.”

Dr Sam Coulter-Smith, Master of the Rotunda Hospital said that “the hospital is delighted to welcome the announcement, noting that co-location of the Rotunda with a significant acute adult partner has been the Rotunda’s strategic ambition for some time. The Master and the Board welcome today’s announcement by the Minister and look forward to development of a new world class Rotunda on a redeveloped Connolly site”.

Speaking to reporters at the official announcement of the reconfiguration plans, Dr Coulter-Smith confirmed the Rotunda would maintain its name, and it is anticipated the other hospitals will too.

John Pollock, Project Director of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, said: “Throughout the process of designing and planning the new children’s hospital on the St James’s Hospital campus, we have been working in the knowledge that a new maternity hospital would also be located on the campus and we welcome today’s confirmation of the Coombe as tri-location partner. The planning application for the new children’s hospital, which will be submitted to An Bord Pleanala in the coming weeks, takes account of maternity hospital requirements for shared services and clinical adjacencies which underpins future efficiencies”.

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