Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has said that the proposals for the new National Maternity Hospital, which under current plans will not be owned by the state, must come before the Oireachtas to face scrutiny before any final decision is taken.
There is an outstanding Health Committee invitation for next week.
Teachta Cullinane said this substantial investment, likely up to €1 billion, cannot go ahead unless the state’s investment is fully safeguarded, and the rights of patients to access fertility and termination services are absolutely guaranteed.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“The decision to relocate the National Maternity Hospital to Elm Park will be a significant move by the state and will cost possibly in excess of €1 billion when all is said and done.
“The new National Maternity Hospital needs to be built and operational as soon as possible, but expedience cannot be used to dilute rights in any way.
“The full range of legal permissible services, from fertility treatments to termination of pregnancy, whether medical or surgical, must be available in the hospital to any qualifying patient.
“There are disputes and mixed views on whether these services will be fully available and accessible at the new site, which is illustrated quite clearly by the dissent of two members of the HSE Board, the eminent medical law scholar Professor Deirdre Madden and patient advocate Dr Sarah McLoughlin.
“There are many questions to serious concerns yet to be answered and the Minister cannot expect a leap of faith from campaigners or the opposition with scrutiny of the details.
“There must be absolute, cast-iron guarantees, in black and white, that all legally permissible services will be available to those who want them.
“This must go beyond a vague commitment to legal and clinically appropriate services and should be explicit in the services which will be available and the terms on which a patient is entitled to access them.
“That means when a patient wants fertility treatment or a termination of pregnancy, to which they are legally entitled, there will be no obstacle to accessing that healthcare.
“The Oireachtas – the Health Committee, the Dáil, and the Seanad – must have an opportunity to scrutinise the proposals before any agreement is irreversibly made.”