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SF Assembly Member welcomes announcement on Downpatrick Midwifery-Led Unit

8 May, 2008

South Down Assembly Member Caitríona Ruane has welcomed today's announcement that a state of the art Community Midwifery-Led Unit will be located within the new Downe hospital in Downpatrick.

Ms Ruane said:

"I understand that the business case for the unit has been approved by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. In addition, the new unit will have ante-natal and post-natal services and will include three home-from-home birthing rooms. This is a very welcome development and a major boost for the new Downe Hospital.

"Sinn Féin has led the campaign for a Mid-Wifery Led Unit which in will offer greater choice to expectant mothers throughout this part of south Down. It is clear there was wide spread interest in the scheme and it is particularly important that Downpatrick has secured this unit.

"Established Midwifery Led units are very popular in many European countries and women who are classified as low risk must be allowed to choose the option of having an assisted home birth. My party has fully supported the campaign to secure a mid wifery unit for Downpatrick and agreed with The Royal College of Midwives who have stated that the establishment of such units provide the opportunity to develop a 'third way' of providing maternity care.

"This new Community Midwifery-Led Unit will play a key role in providing a full range of maternity services, which will offer mothers a greater choice about the type of care they receive. It will provide dedicated staff with a truly modern facility in which to carry out their crucial work." ENDS

Note to Editors

  1. Community Midwifery-Led Units are small maternity units providing care before, during and after childbirth for women assessed to be at low risk of having a complicated pregnancy or labour.
  2. In June 2002, the DHSSPS published proposals on the future shape of hospital services in Northern Ireland which included the recommendation of the establishment of two stand alone midwifery-led units on a pilot basis.
  3. In response to these proposals, the Eastern Health and Social Services Board identified its wishes to commission one Community Midwifery Unit in its area, with the then Down Lisburn Trust identified as the preferred provider.

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