Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Stephen Donnelly has raised grave concerns about the state of the country’s maternity services following a complete failure by the outgoing government to implement the National Maternity Strategy.
Deputy Donnelly explained, “Not a single extra cent was invested in maternity services in 2019. This is despite clear commitments in the National Maternity Strategy to recruit 500 additional midwives, standardise governance procedures and ensure a safe and quality standard of care for mothers and babies.
“It’s nearly four years now since the Taoiseach launched the National Maternity Strategy amid much fanfare. It has become apparent that this was more about the media opportunity and less about making a real difference to standards and outcomes in the country’s 19 maternity units.
“In the past four years, the situation has gone from bad to worse. We now have even less midwives in place than we did before the strategy was launched. Staff at are maternity units are stretched beyond capacity to the point that their own wellbeing is now at risk. We’ve had more deaths and serious incidents at maternity units. Last November the Master of the Rotunda Hospital warned that babies will die if the overcrowding and understaffing is not addressed.
“What more does Fine Gael need? How many tragedies does it take to realise that this is a sector in crisis and the consequences of ignoring the National Maternity Strategy are grave?
“We need more midwives, more obstetricians and investment in specialised care without further delay. Fianna Fáil has committed to annual investment of €5 million in the maternity strategy, more than three times the level of funding Fine Gael is providing in 2020. This includes a recruitment campaign for the much-needed additional staff in the sector.
“We will also:
- Fully implement the National Women and Infant Health Programme;
- Ensure that 20-week anomaly scans are available in all maternity hospitals;
- Support the re-location of the four stand-alone maternity hospitals in Dublin and Limerick to new hospitals on the site of adult teaching hospitals;
- Ensure that the new Maternity Hospital at St Vincents is State owned and that governance issues are open and transparent; and
- Provide financial assistance to couples needing fertility treatment.
“The lack of action from Fine Gael since the launch of the strategy is inexcusable.
We cannot afford to wait until there are other tragedies in our maternity units before the State starts to meet its obligations to families and frontline health workers.”