It has been announced that the Mater and St Vincent’s University Hospitals are to merge into one integrated hospital on two sites.
Head of the School of Medicine and Medical Science Professor William Powderly, told The University Observer that the idea for the merging was not a new proposal: “This is something that has been in gestation for a number of years,” he said. “We actually announced the initial part of the plans back in 2007, so it was before the current issues around hospital resources.”
The plan will not affect the distribution of medical students, who currently operate between both hospitals: “We’ve been evolving the medical programme over the last number of years, so although a student may be primarily operating in one of the two hospitals, in fact they do rotations in both hospitals.”
Professor Powderly explained that the merger proposal is being modeled on what is already happening around the world in an attempt to improve medicine research and education: “Basically, the model for best patient care elsewhere in the world are called academic medical centres, which is where you bring together a medical school and one or more hospitals to create an environment where you have very high quality patient care.
“But it’s also driven in part by a commitment to research in education, so that active involvement of the medical centre in research and education actually leads to improvements in clinical practice and improvements in patient care because you have a culture in which people are constantly learning and constantly examining what they do.”
Professor Powderly further emphasised this by saying that there are currently certain services provided for in one hospital that are not provided for in another and that this was a major consideration in terms of medical training when the idea to merge to two hospitals originated: “We wanted to give the students as much opportunity as possible, he said. “We want to allow the students to have exposure to as much as possible.”
The proposal will create one of the largest hospitals in the country. A report published in The Irish Times stated that Health Minister Mary Harney welcomes the proposal and expects that it will be coming into fruition in the near future.