Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher TD has responded to the claims made in last night’s RTÉ Prime Time investigation into undiagnosed breach births in the maternity unit of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.
Deputy Kelleher commented, “In any discussion about possible problems with our maternity services it is important first to reassure expectant families that this country enjoys some of the highest levels of maternity safety in the world. However, when evidence of possible problems emerge it is important to confront and analyse them robustly.
“These claims regarding the situation in Drogheda come quickly on the heels of tragic developments in Portlaoise, Portiuncula and Galway. They also come 15 months after Dr Sam Coulter-Smith, the Master at Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital warned of ‘unsustainable’ levels of activity jeopardising patient safety at the hospital.
“While it is clear that the vast majority of expectant mothers enjoy a high standard of care across the country, it is also increasingly clear that our national maternity infrastructure is under strain and needs serious review and investment.
“Individual knee-jerk initiatives in response to individual problems are not sufficient. We need a proper debate about whether the infrastructure that is currently in place is sufficient to meet the needs of the country over coming years.
“This debate needs to include a discussion about what greater role community midwifery can play, the urgent need for greater numbers of consultant obstetricians and what level of investment in the physical infrastructure is actually needed.
“If the Government continues to rely on the strong record of our maternity services in the past while making minimal investment in the present, we are going to end up facing more and more crises in the future”.