GPs 'refusing vital support for new mums and babies'
RISK: Women entitled to vital care turned away
NEW mums are being turned down for vital health checks for themselves and their babies.
Dozens of women across the country have reported that they are being given wrong information about what they are entitled to from their GP, a representative for the Association of Irish Maternity Services (AIMS) said.
Under the Maternity and Infant Scheme, every pregnant woman is entitled to a minimum range of maternity care.
Before and after they give birth, their health checks should be maintained by their GP.
Every woman may take up this facility, regardless of whether she has a medical card.
The GP provides an initial examination and a further six examinations during the pregnancy, which are alternated with visits to the maternity unit or hospital.
After the birth, new mums should be able to visit their doctor at two weeks with their baby and at six weeks for a check-up for themselves and the baby.
But AIMS said women have come forward to say GPs are telling them that their baby is not entitled to a two-week check and women are not entitled to a six-week check.
"A woman in the Wexford area contacted us to say that she was told she wasn't entitled to the two checks," she said.
"She was told to bring in her baby for the six week check. But she was also told her baby would be checked by the nurse, not the GP."
Maternity services are already under huge strain -- women are being released from hospital as soon as possible after they deliver as beds are in short supply.
And skipping these crucial checks could ultimately prove to be extremely dangerous for new mums.
"Women are being discharged from hospital early due to shortages of staff and beds and then are not being checked properly during the post partum period," the representative added.
"It should be pointed out, GPs are paid for these checks, whether they provide them or not."
A representative for the Department of Health said: "The scheme provides for 12 ante-natal visits -- six to the GP and six to the chosen maternity unit/hospital in the case of a first pregnancy.
"In subsequent pregnancies, there are seven visits to the general practitioner and five to the maternity unit/hospital.
"There are also two post-natal visits to the GP -- at two weeks for the baby and at six weeks for mother and baby."