A religious congregation which has failed to date to provide its share of funds to a redress scheme for institutional abuse victims, is to be given ownership of the new €300 million State-funded National Maternity Hospital.
The Sisters of Charity are the shareholders of the St Vincent’s Healthcare Group which the Department of Health said will be the “sole owner of the new hospital” which is to be built on a site at Elm Park in south Dublin.
The relocation of the hospital from Holles Street to the St Vincent’s hospital campus involves the largest single investment ever made in maternity services in the State.
…A department spokesman said the “autonomy of the national maternity hospital board will be underpinned by reserved powers to ensure clinical and operational independence, and the Minister for Health will hold the power to protect those reserved powers”.
From top: Editorial in yesterday’s Sunday Times, and Professor Chris Fitzpatrick, former master of the Coombe hospital
You may recall the plans to move the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street to a site next to St Vincent’s University Hospital so that they can share a campus in Elm Park, Dublin.
Yesterday the Sunday Times reported that the Religious Sisters of Charity-owned St Vincent’s Healthcare Group (SVHG) is demanding that the National Maternity Hospital agrees to “become a branch of its corporate structure” before allowing the planned co-location to go ahead.
Further to this, Professor and consultant obstetrician/gynaecologist at the Coombe Hospital in Dublin Chris Fitzpatrick, spoke to Keelin Shanley on Today with Seán O’Rourke.
During their discussion, Professor Fitzpatrick said:
“I think that in terms of St Vincent’s Hospital, in the interests of patient safety that, in the context of co-location that the National Maternity Hospital should remain a clinical and corporate entity. Now there are huge advantages in relation to St Vincent’s Hospital taking on board the National Maternity Hospital, in terms of providing the full range of comprehensive care, from birth right through to old age. I think they are huge advantages in terms of the research, education and training synergies. But in the interest of patient safety, and with the greatest respect St Vincent’s Hospital do not have a track record in providing maternity and neonatal services, I think in the interest of patient safety that the National Maternity Hospital should be in a position to retain its corporate and clinical governance structures. In the interest of patient safety and I think that is the, that is to the forefront of all of these considerations.”
“…There’s been a long track record of underinvestment and de-prioritisation of services for mothers and babies. Moving into a big adult complex, healthcare complex, where there are competitive demands, I think it is really important that decisions made in relation to care being provided for mothers and babies are made by those who are best equipped to make those decisions…and these cases have been highlighted in the media recently.”
“There are also increasing ethical considerations that need to be taken into account in relation to complex issues in pregnancy. And I think, in the interest of mothers, that those decisions at a clinical and corporate level are best taken by those who have a long experience in making those decisions and providing those services… and that experience does not exist in general hospitals.”
“In relation to gynaecology services, where women are accessing gynaecology services in general hospitals, in Vincent’s, in James’s, in the Mater, because of competitive demands, many women are now actually moving from those hospitals into the maternity hospitals simply because of the fact that these services have been de-prioritised on the adult services.”
“…This project is ready to go to planning. I think the taxpayer and also mothers and women will not tolerate business issues bogging down a process that should be accelerated.”
From top: Eurosurgical Limited; Noel Bergin, supply chain co-ordinator at Dublin’s Beacon Hospital; an invoice for a holiday to Florida for Mr Bergin and his family sent to Eurosurgical; Alan Kane, of Eurosurgical; David Byrne, contracts manager at St Vincent’s Hospital.
Last night, on Prime Time, Paul Murphy, from the RTE Investigations Unit, reported that some senior hospital staff at St Vincent’s Hospital and Beacon Hospital have received expensive holidays and gifts from Dublin surgical supply firm, Eurosurgical Limited – which is part owned by Alan Kane.
Alan Kane is also Eurosurgical’s sales director.
Noel Bergin is the supply chain co-ordinator at the Beacon Hospital.
Prime Time reported that, last August, Mr Bergin, his partner and three children went to Florida on a two-week holiday and an invoice for the holiday – amounting to €7,750 – was sent by a travel agent directly to Eurosurgical Limited.
RTE also showed emails sent by Alan Kane, referring to Mr Bergin as ‘my man.’
A lawyer for Mr Bergin told Prime Time:
“Our client was not offered and did not accept a gift…our client paid in full for the holiday in the sum of €5,000. Eurosurgical Limited had no involvement in the matter save that Mr [Alan] Kane introduced him to the travel agent…[Mr Bergin] paid Alan Kane €5,000 in cash for the holiday for transmission to the travel agent.”
In a statement, Eurosurgical told RTE the travel agents are “close personal friends” of the Kane family – which owns Eurosurgical – and that…
“…This enabled them to get the benefit of the travel agent’s purchasing power and thereby better rates than those available to the general public. Typically the travel agent invoiced Eurosurgical Limited whom the individual would then reimburse.”
It also said it would be seeking the balance of the holiday – which actually cost €8,840 – from Mr Bergin.
Meanwhile, Prime Time also alleged that some hospital staff have passed on sensitive information to Mr Kane.
Last April, Mr Kane emailed David Byrne, contracts manager at St Vincent’s Hospital, asking him for a breakdown of John Bannon Limited’s sales to St Vincent’s. John Bannon Limited is one of Eurosurgical’s main competitors:
After obtaining the figures for 11 months’ worth of sales, and forwarding them to his Hotmail address, Mr Byrne then forwarded the figures from his Hotmail account to Alan Kane.
A lawyer for Eurosurgical told Prime Time, the sharing of competitor information by hospitals is an “open and widely acknowledged practice” that is the “current industry norm”.
RTE also reported that, in June 2014, Mr Byrne emailed Mr Kane, from his Hotmail account, telling him about an impending order.
In the same email Mr Byrne asked Mr Kane for a €500 shopping voucher:
Mr Byrne didn’t respond to requests for a comment from RTE but Eurosurgical Limited said the shopping voucher was for a spot prize for the St Vincent’s Golfing Society and that the voucher was actually for €50, not €500 but “was never furnished”.
Prime Time also reported that Mr Byrne went on a four-day trip to Fota Island in Cork and Eurosurgical Limited paid for the trip – with Mr Byrne sending Mr Kane an invoice for the trip, from his Hotmail account.
In the email, Mr Byrne states he will “issue a PO to sort”. PO means a purchasing order.
Mr Byrne again refused to speak to RTE in relation to this holiday but Eurosurgical told Prime Time it did pay for it because Mr Byrne told it that he was “under a lot of pressure and would like a break”. Eurosurgical also said Mr Byrne later wrote a cheque to Eurosurgical to pay for the holiday but that the cheque was never cashed.