The government is continuing to tell the people of Ireland that they will forge ahead with their plans to enter into a church state partnership for the new National Maternity Hospital. However, this government has NO MANDATE from the people of Ireland to enter into a church/state partnership for any aspect of healthcare with taxpayers money. NONE.
This proposed move is a statement of intention by the government about how the government intend to proceed with the development of services in the future and while the public understand how such services may have developed historically, the public are very much under the impression that this mode of service delivery had come to an end.
This government and its advisors have clearly demonstrated that they intend to to continue the church/state partnership model. A model which has repeatedly let the people of this country down. The people of Ireland do not want future healthcare facilities built with such foundations, and the government has no mandate to do so.
If we went on the streets today and asked the people, “How would you expect the state to proceed with service provision now and into the future?”, no one would expect the State to turn to a religious institution as a partner for anything. Not for education and certainly not for healthcare. In 21st century Ireland, the public expect fully independent state owned facilities free from church ownership or influence or association.
The government may have interpreted a desire from the current board of the NMH and its current master as a mandate for this partnership, but the current workforce of the NMH do not own the hospital and will not use its services in the future; the people of Ireland will. Whilst we fully appreciate the desire of the current master and board of NMH to move from what are admittedly difficult working conditions, this workforce relations issue cannot be allowed to dominate the future direction of healthcare and ownership of healthcare in this country.
This is not just an issue for the people of Dublin, this is an issue for every citizen in Ireland. Until full clarity is obtained from the from the government as to how they plan to fund our future healthcare facilities, then this move of the National Maternity Hospital cannot take place. Until full clarity is obtained from the Religious Order The Sisters of Charity, as to the secular nature of the treatments that will be available this move cannot take place. Ultimately if this government cannot negotiate an independent secular National Maternity Hospital at the Elm Park site, there are other options on the table and the government well know what they are as they already spent copious quantities of taxpayers money in costly consultancies in order to find out.
Ultimately, and this is what it comes down to, the new National Maternity Hospital is not going to be built for the current workforce of the NMH, it is going to be built for the future generations of Ireland, and as a service user and service user representative we reiterate that the government has no mandate from us the people to enter into a church/state, public-private partnership with OUR MONEY potentially jeopardising the future healthcare of our children.
In light of the “blurred lines” involved in this situation with the National Maternity Hospital, we ask the government to clarify the future position on such matters. If the people are to part fund church/state partnerships, this needs to be a decision made by the people. AIMSI also calls on the government to clarify the position on future church/state partnerships it intends to use public money to fund.