The National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street in south central Dublin is to be relocated a few km further south to the St Vincent’s Hospital campus at Elm Park in the Ballsbridge area.
Construction of the facility, which will cost the state €150 million, will begin in late 2016. Upon its expected completion in 2018 the ownership of the current Holles St hospital – a protected building whose façade is mentioned in the James Joyce novel Ulysses – will pass to the Irish state.
The new purpose-built hospital will have the capacity to accommodate up to 10,000 births a year and has been heralded as “a new and exciting chapter in maternity care for women and infants in Ireland” by health minister James Reilly.
Facilities at the new hospital will include a high dependency unit, a neo-natal intensive care unit, a special care baby unit and operating theatres, while ante- and post-natal care will be provided in predominantly single en-suite rooms.
Over the past 20 years there has been a 50 per cent increase in the number of babies delivered at the historic Holles St hospital which has been described by its Master Rhona Mahony as "no longer fit for purpose."
The hospital, which is located just off Merrion Square, deals with 10,000 births annually, averaging 28 a day. Mahony said the new facility was urgently required and would achieve the hospital's "strategic aim of close location with St Vincent’s University Hospital."
Parts of the existing Holles Street buildings date back to the mid-1700s, with the most recent major extension taking place in the 1960s with the addition of new hospital wing.
Demographically, the Republic of Ireland differs greatly to the rest of Europe. It has a significantly smaller population than other comparably-sized European countries as well as having the youngest population of any European Union (EU) country. A survey taken in 2008 revealed that Ireland had the highest birth rate (18.1 per 1,000) and lowest death rate (6.1 per 1,000) in the EU. Unlike most other European countries, Ireland's population size is predicted to grow for many decades into the future.