THE board of Dublin's famous Holles Street maternity hospital wants to move out of the centre of Dublin and build on a new site at St Vincent's in south Dublin.
Members of the hospital board have expressed serious concerns about the severe lack of space at the maternity hospital, which they say could affect its long-term future.
"In the longer term there is a need to relocate the hospital to another site and our preferred option would be St Vincent's University Hospital," says Deputy Chairman J Brian Davy. He said in the annual report published last week that: "The level of activity at the hospital is in excess of its designed capacity." If the hospital moves it would open up a huge quarter off Dublin's Merrion Square to developers and would herald the departure of yet another centre city hospital to the suburbs.
Recent reports have indicated that Holles Street could need as much as 50 per cent more space if it is to operate at its optimum potential while the Master of the hospital, Dr Michael Robson, has said the lack of space is affecting some of the most vulnerable patients in its wards.
"In our neo-natal unit we take in some of the most premature and difficult pregnancies and also small babies from the rest of the country are treated here, so in a sense when there is lack of space, they suffer as well," he said. "We also have limited theatre space and the C-section rate is going up so there are more pressures on those common areas of theatre. The busy departments will always suffer but the other departments will too because of the domino effect that the lack of space causes."
But he said the need to move was not just about lack of space but whether the old-fashioned layout of the hospital was appropriate for modern-day medicine.
Dr Robson says he is also aware of the huge historical significance that the current site holds and says he hopes to maintain some of its original artefacts. "If you look at the traditions and the masters, the hospital has some great historical links. How many maternity hospitals are called by the name of the street it's on? So it will undoubtedly be missed."
He went on: "Stand-alone maternity hospitals are also very rare nowadays and historically we have been in this site for just over a hundred years, 1994 was our centenary year. So we wouldn't want to go very far and I think it's appropriate we maintain our original catchment area."
The board hopes to move location as soon as possible and a report is currently been undertaken by consultants KPMG, which will be presented to the Health Service Executive.