The country's biggest maternity hospital is to relocate to a new campus at a cost of 150 million euro, the Government has confirmed.
The Holles Street national maternity hospital (NMH) in Dublin will be moved to St Vincent's on the south side and will provide care for up to 10,000 births a year.
Dr Rhona Mahony, master of Holles Street, said the vision was for a new environment for clinical excellence. "Currently, NMH is situated on Holles Street in an old building no longer fit for purpose," she said. "A new facility is urgently needed. The relocation of NMH will address this need and will achieve our strategic aim of close location with St Vincent's University Hospital."
Holles Street had outgrown its location. Parts of the buildings date back to the mid-1700s and in the mid-1930s the original houses were demolished when the main hospital building was constructed with sweepstakes funds. The most recent major extension was when a wing was added in the 1960s.
The Department of Health warned of significant capacity and risk issues that need to be addressed in the existing Holles Street buildings, and that the longer the hospital remains in its current location, costs will continue to increase. The number of babies delivered there has increased by almost 50% in the last 20 years.
The new facility will be on St Vincent's Elm Park campus in Dublin 4 and meets a key recommendation of a review of maternity and gynaecological services for greater Dublin by KPMG that found they should be located beside adult acute services. The health strategy allows doctors access to the full range of medical and surgical specialties and clinical support services, which is particularly important for high-risk mothers and babies.
James Reilly, Health Minister, said it would be a "state-of-the-art, custom-built, modern health care facility, providing care to international standards in the most appropriate surroundings and with access to the facilities and staff of a major acute hospital. In short - the best care in the best environment".
The new hospital will house a high dependency unit, a neo-natal intensive care unit and a special care baby unit. Ante and post-natal care will be provided in mostly single, en-suite rooms while birthing accommodation will include operating theatres, birthing rooms, including for multiple births, and a midwife-led birthing unit.
The hospital will also provide for national specialties and expertise in national neo-natal transfer service; foetal medicine; gynaecology; and infertility and genetics among others. It will also offer an early pregnancy assessment unit; emergency assessment; day services; outpatients; radiology; and ultra sound and x ray facilities.
Professor Fionnuala McAuliffe, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and spokeswoman for the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: "This move will give pregnant women faster access to a full range of hospital services, including coronary care and intensive care. This is a very positive development for women and infants in Ireland."