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Questions remain about planned handover of maternity hospital to ‘parasitic’ private healthcare group

Questions need to be answered about the planned handover of the new National Maternity Hospital to a private healthcare group currently under HSE audit, Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall has said.

Deputy Shortall said: “The corporate entity known as St Vincent’s Healthcare Group has been under audit by the HSE for some time now. There are clear concerns about the financial arrangements between the three hospitals in this group, in particular the suspected cross subsidisation from the two public hospitals in the group to the private hospital.

“The Director General of the HSE told the Public Accounts Committee in April 2015 that the private hospital was “being run on the back of the public hospital”. He described it as having a “parasitic dependence on the public hospital”, to such an extent that it “may well not be viable as a private hospital”.

“There are also questions about the financial arrangements within the group, top-ups and salary scales. A HSE review of consultants work in respect of public private mix is due to begin. And the HSE still haven’t been informed about the detail of the charge created on the public St Michael’s Hospital by SVHG in favour of Bank of Ireland.

“With all these outstanding questions and concerns, exactly how can the State justify adding yet another public hospital to the portfolio of assets owned by SVHG – the €300m publicly funded National Maternity Hospital?

“We need to see the detailed terms of any new arrangement between the government and SVHG and we need clarity about whether the Mulvey deal agreed last November still applies.”