Fresh wrangling over control of new National Maternity Hospital

The start of construction on the new €500 million National Maternity Hospital (NMH) has been delayed after HSE board members rejected its proposed governance structure for fear it will give control of the facility to St Vincent’s Healthcare Group (SVHG).

It is thought that the latest impasse over corporate governance is not related to religious ethos. There is no evidence that the Sisters of Charity, who founded St Vincent’s, will have any influence over the proposed NMH.

The board’s audit and risk committee has repeatedly refused in the past six months to accept the formula for appointing directors to the board of a company called National Maternity Hospital at Elm Park DAC, which will operate the new facility on St Vincent’s campus in Dublin. The project cannot go ahead without the HSE board’s approval.

The committee, chaired by Brendan Lenihan, a former president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland, has argued that the Hospital board’s composition, as planned, would not adequately protect the public interest and would give SVHG effective control.

Because of the standoff over governance, a motion for approval of the project has not yet been put to the main board. Its next meeting is scheduled for September 24.