herald

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Maternity chief urges mums to kick up a stink

FEARS: Master's plea over exodus of midwives

THE Master of Rotunda has called on Irish women to "kick up a stink" about the quality of care in the maternity services.

Dr Sam Coulter Smith said that they will lose 11 midwives from the Dublin hospital when hundreds leave their posts at the end of next month.

Dr Coulter Smith said that there was going to be a serious impact on the maternity services which are already struggling as the country goes through a baby boom.

And he said that more women will opt for public care as the cost of private health insurance rises.

"Clinics are busier, waiting times are going to increase," he said. "This waters down the quality of what you can provide.



Challenge

"The overall effect is that there will be a reduction in the quality of care [for] public patients.

"Every woman in 2012 Ireland should be entitled to one-to-one care for the duration of her labour and that's a real challenge.

"When we have multiple emergencies, we really are significantly stretched.

"We need people to get on board -- we need women in Ireland to start kicking up a stink about it," he added. "It's a very poor performance on the part of the people who are making decisions."

The Consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology said that the Rotunda currently has nine delivery suites but needs 16 to cope with demand.

Dr Coulter Smith's criticism of the HSE's reaction to the crisis in the maternity service follows a stark warning from Dr Gerry Burke that lives will be lost.

As first revealed in the Herald earlier this month, the consultant obstetrician at Mid-Western Regional Maternity Hospital in Limerick, said 47 midwives from just over 200 are set to retire from their posts across the region by the end of next month.

He predicted the retirements will result in a shortfall which "will diminish the quality of maternity care these women and babies receive.

"Somebody will die, but fortunately we have had fantastic results as things stand. But you cannot expect that if you keep losing or shedding staff, that those results will continue at that level."

Last night a spokesman for the HSE said contingency plans, which are at an advanced stage, would be in place to cover any gaps that may arise in staffing as a result of midwives retiring next month.



Insight

The HSE would not comment on how many midwives are due to retire.

"It is not possible at present to say exactly how many will be leaving at the end of the grace period as staff still have a chance to change their minds," the HSE said.

However, Dr Burke said the HSE was not providing him or any of his colleagues with insight on any contingency plans.

"I suspect there are no comprehensive contingency plans to deal with this," he said.

He said it was time for the Government to protect the maternity services.

"I think something has gone radically wrong with the country if we are attacking pregnant women and babies to find a way to pay German and French banks back," Dr Burke said.

hnews@herald.ie

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