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Government underfunding of National Maternity Strategy ‘reckless’ – O’Reilly

1 April, 2019 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Speaking this afternoon, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said government underfunding of the National Maternity Strategy is reckless, and the decision to not to give additional funding in 2019 is bordering on sabotage.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“Nothing surprises you with this government, and most certainly not when it comes to the health service.

“Reports today and Parliamentary Question replies I have received from the Minister for Health and the HSE detail how no additional funding was allocated to the National Maternity Strategy in 2019 effectively halting any new elements of the essential plan.

“This is a completely reckless situation which undermines the maternity strategy.

“Ireland has the lowest number of consultant obstetricians per 100,000 women in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and a consultant obstetrician in Ireland is responsible for 597 births per annum, compared to 268 in Scotland.

“This is a startling contrast that highlights the challenge that our health professionals must overcome every day and it is no wonder that the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists previously stated that there is very little interest in applying for consultant maternity positions.

“The evidence supports this as there are campaigns underway for at least nine consultant positions in maternity hospitals across the State.

“The fact is we must ensure the implementation of the National Maternity Standards for Safer Better Maternity Services and the National Maternity Strategy and to do that funding is needed.

“The National Maternity Strategy needs at least €7.5 million per year over the next decade to ensure full implementation, however, underfunding it as has been done this year jeopardises achieving that goal.

“Furthermore, the government must work with nursing and medical unions in the recruitment and retention of medical staff, so that all maternity hospitals meet the ‘Birthrate Plus’ standard for midwifery staffing, as well as international standards for consultant obstetricians and gynaecologists.

“We must have a National Maternity Strategy that is funded, fit for purpose, and acts in the best interests of women’s health.” ENDS

Note: Please see the PQs in question attached

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