HIQA recommendations for St Luke’s Maternity Ward must be implemented immediately – Kathleen Funchion TD
Commenting on HIQA’s recent report on St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny and its recommendations for change within the maternity unit there, Sinn Féin’s TD for Carlow/Kilkenny Kathleen Funchion said if the Government were serious about protecting women and their health then appropriate resources would be allocated immediately to the maternity ward and the recommendations by HIQA would be prioritized and acted upon urgently.
Teachta Funchion said:
“I have been raising issues regarding the maternity unit at St Luke’s hospital since February 2017 when it was proposed by management that cuts should be made by up to 15%; the equivalent of a reduction of four beds.
“I made numerous failed attempts at the time to get clarification on the proposal and requested a meeting with St Luke’s management. The proposed solution to overcrowding at the time was to allow the overflow of the hospital into the maternity ward which would subsequently squeeze the resources of those units. This was in my view a reckless proposal and I questioned it both directly with management and in the Dáil chamber with the relevant Minister.
“It was a ludicrous proposal which staff were highly concerned about at the time. It showed no regard for mothers of newborn babies or pregnant women and it would have increased the risks of cross contamination of patients and high-risk clientele. I could not understand how it would even have been considered.
“A meeting was held in 2017 on the back my attempts to highlight these concerns. This was held with Oireachtas members and management from St Luke’s.
“Assurances were given at that meeting that there was a plan to upgrade the maternity unit, particularly the special care baby unit. This is yet to materialise and, in light of HIQA’s recent report, shows that women’s health has been failed once again.
“HIQA’s recommendations which come after its inspectors visited the St Luke’s unit as part of its review of standards in all 19 public maternity units in the State, and which started last year are, therefore, eagerly welcomed.
“Among the measures under consideration were methods to ensure around-the-clock consultant cover and new systems to log the skills of junior doctors. They also call for a greater focus on teamwork and inter-disciplinary work within the hospital as well as clearer protocols for the transfer of serious cases to tertiary hospitals in Dublin.
“The report calls for the urgent appointment of additional staff to the Kilkenny unit. We believe one additional obstetrician is being recruited, with a second post to be hopefully approved.
“I wholeheartedly welcome these views and recommendations and urge the Minister for Health to act on them immediately for the safety of all women attending St Luke’s Maternity unit.”