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Maternity crisis exposes Government failures

8 November, 2004

Despite unprecedented economic growth for over a decade the crisis facing the country's maternity services exposes the failure of the Fianna Fáil/PD Government's healthcare policies, said Sinn Féin's spokesperson on Health and Children, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD. Deputy Ó Caoláin was commenting after Limerick Maternity Hospital suggested it would have to follow the lead of the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin in putting a cap on the number of deliveries it will handle.

The Cavan/Monaghan TD said, "Despite repeated claims by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health that things are getting better and that more money than ever is being spent on our healthcare services, it is patently obvious things have not only not improved, despite ten years of economic boom, but that in many instances things are actually getting worse.

"Frontline staff shortages in our hospitals are at the root of problems. Beds are closed, surgical procedures are postponed and cancelled and aftercare services virtually non-existent because we have a chronic staff shortage across a range of areas. And now we have the totally unacceptable situation of not only the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin putting a cap on the number of admissions but regional hospitals and maternity units also threatening to impose similar caps because of staff shortages.

"The latest crisis in maternity services demonstrates the utter folly of the Government in allowing the closure of maternity units at local hospitals, such as Monaghan General Hospital. These services should be fully restored and properly resourced.

"It is clear that this Government has no strategic or long-term plan for addressing these problems and that it is willing to just limp from crisis to crisis in the hope that the problems will go away of their own accord. Well they won't. It will take a root and branch reform of healthcare provision in this state with the emphasis on increasing the number of frontline staff." ENDS

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