Minister Donnelly welcomes significant developments in Women’s Health at the launch of the National Women and Infants Health Programmes Annual Report 2021

Published on: 08 July 2022

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, today launched the National Women & Infants Health Programme’s Annual Report for 2021. 

The National Women & Infants Health Programme was established in the HSE to lead the management, organisation and delivery of maternity, gynaecology and neonatal services, strengthening such services by bringing together work that is currently undertaken across primary, community and acute care. The Programme acts as a single central authority on maternity care and as a reference point and resource for women’s health issues within the HSE, providing for much needed coordinated oversight.  

Minister Donnelly said: 

“Promoting Women’s Health is a priority for me and the Government. The investment and developments we are seeing in women’s health demonstrate that this area is now receiving the focus and support it needs to provide timely and effective services to the women of Ireland."

“The National Women’s and Infants Health Programme has undertaken very important work in the development of women’s health services since its establishment in 2017, particularly in maternity services, but also in the areas of gynaecology, fertility and sexual assault treatment services. The effect of that work is reflected in this Report where we can clearly see the benefits for the women and families accessing health services."

“Women have more choice when it comes to maternity care in 2021, with 24% of pregnant women booked on the Supported Care Pathway. More women could also access more services closer to home, with additional community midwifery services and Early Transfer Home services becoming available."

"We also saw brand new services coming online, with additional ambulatory gynaecology clinics, as well as the establishment of specialised endometrial and menopause clinics in Tallaght and the NMH.

2021 was a challenging year for the HSE, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the cyber-attack on HSE systems, but this Report shows that the Programme continued to make significant progress in 2021."

“In Budget 2022, I secured additional funding of almost €9m for the implementation of the National Maternity Strategy. This will ensure the continued implementation of the Strategy into 2022 and beyond, in line with the revised Implementation Plan. As Minister, I have made it clear that I am determined to improve access, affordability and quality of women’s health services and as part of that, I want to ensure the ongoing development of safe, trusted, standardised, maternity care which supports better outcomes for women.”

Mr Kilian McGrane, the Director of the National Women and Infants Health Programme added: 

“I welcome the publication of the National Women & Infants Health Programme’s Annual Report for 2021. Despite the major challenges of 2021, our maternity services performed very well and continued to keep women, babies, and staff safe, while delivering quality care in very challenging circumstances. Despite these challenges, 2021 saw a number of important milestones achieved, which we plan to build upon.

In 2021, we saw a significant increase in funding for women's health, and that is reflected in the Annual Report with further progress in implementing the National Maternity Strategy and a major increase in the number of ambulatory gynaecology centres. This investment, which was matched with further investment in 2022, has greatly enhanced the care provided to women across our 19 maternity services”.