Fianna Fáil MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher has raised alarm over the fresh threat to maternity services in the West/North West region.

A confidential HSE report seen by Fianna Fáil threatens the closure of up to four obstetric units in the region – Sligo General, Letterkenny General, Portiuncula and Mayo General.

“This report confirms that the HSE and Minister for Health James Reilly are strongly considering a dramatic reduction of maternity services right across the West and North West,” said MEP Gallagher.

“All the scenarios under consideration would result in the closure of at least some obstetrician-led units in this region. This could include dramatically downgrading the maternity units at our regional hospitals to midwife-only units, or indeed closing some units altogether. 

“The result would be a centralisation of maternity services at just two hospitals across the West and North West. This is a vast geographical area and the removal of any maternity units will have a severe impact on expectant mothers. Many would be expected to travel for hours for just a regular check-up with an obstetrician.  While the value of midwives in antenatal and postnatal care cannot be overestimated, in the case of emergencies it is essential that all expectant mothers have quick and easy access to a consultant.

“This news is causing great distress among many parents across the region.  It’s essential that the Minister for Health James Reilly steps in immediately to clarify what his plans are in relation to the future of maternity services in this region.  It looks to me like the Government is sitting on this report until after the local and European elections.  It is simply not good enough to play politics with such a vital frontline health service that affects hundreds of thousands of people across this region.

“We need clarity from the Government now.  Any attempt to strip maternity services from our regional hospitals in the West and North West must be resisted.”