herald

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Packed Rotunda to turn away pregnant women

PREGNANT women may be turned away from some of Ireland's maternity wards due to a lack of space and funding.

According to the ERSI report this year, Ireland has the highest birth rate in Europe.

Dublin's Rotunda Hospital are considering a cap on the number of expectant mothers it will deliver because of safety concerns.

It says it simply cannot accommodate the ever in-creasing number of patients when space is limited and its budget is falling.

Master of the hospital, Dr Sam Coulter-Smith said that the facility had reached the limit that it could accommodate and had severe concerns regarding how many expectant mothers it could cope with in the future.

"We're going to have to consider capping the numbers," Dr Sam Coulter-Smith said.

"We haven't decided we will do it but it's definitely something we're considering."

Dr Coulter-Smith said they had never imposed a cap on numbers and would only do so unless they had no choice.

Last year 9,000 mothers gave birth to 9,319 babies in Rotunda. This represents a 40pc increase in deliveries in the last five years.



constraints

"This unprecedented level of activity took place in a time of serious constraints with a reduced allocation from the HSE, a moratorium on employment and a reduced headcount," Dr Coulter Smith explained in the hospital's 2011 corporate budget. He says that the Rotunda's budget has been cut between 3-5pc annually in the last few years.

At the same time, its activity level has increased on average by 5pc per year -- putting pressure on the hospital and staff.

The lack of funding and increase in birth rates has led to overcrowding in maternity wards, and the use of outdated equipment.

As a result of overcrowding, women are being pushed through the system at a fast rate. In 2011, Rotunda chiefs told the HSE that its gynaecology ward had to serve as an "overflow" for both pregnant and post-natal mothers.

It meant that women who had lost a baby in early pregnancy had to endure being in the same ward as mothers who gave birth to healthy babies.

The statement comes after expectant mothers were warned in the budget that their maternity leave will now be treated as taxable income.

hnews@herald.ie

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