herald

Saturday 21 September 2019

Vacancies unfilled as rents push midwives out of city

National Maternity Hospital
National Maternity Hospital

Waiting lists for gynaecology care will rise in the National Maternity Hospital in the coming months unless its nursing vacancies are filled.

Some of its most experienced and skilled midwives are moving to other hospitals around the country.

"We continue to have nursing vacancies in theatre and gynaecological services," a spokesman for the hospital said.

"This will impact waiting lists over the coming months if not addressed."

Nurses have previously pointed out the soaring cost of rents in the city and the difficulties in trying to buy a house in Dublin as a significant reason for moving out of the capital.

It recently emerged that 30,000 women are waiting for an out-patient appointment in hospitals across the country to see a gynaecologist - an increase of 43pc since 2014.

Controls

More than 2,400 of the women have faced a delay of at least 18 months to be given an appointment.

It comes as the HSE continues to impose controls on the hiring of staff in order to stay in budget.

In a response to Fianna Fail TD Jack Chambers, who represents Dublin West, the HSE's human resources department denied it was imposing a staff embargo.

However, Ursula Galvin, of the Office of the National Director of Human Resources, told Mr Chambers, "there is a priority requirement for all services to maintain or get to an affordable staffing level that is sustainable in 2019 and 2020 while prioritising the delivery of safe services".

"Every best effort will be made to progress approved posts in line with approved budgetary requirements," she added.

The Midwives Association of Ireland said all women should have a minimum of 1:1 care at all times from a midwife -preferably known to her - during labour.

"However, his minimum is seldom achieved in Ireland,'' it said.

"Despite this, and a rebuttal of an active recruitment pause or ban in the HSE, there appears to be obstacles which effectively mean that midwifery students completing their four-year honours degree course are unable to secure contracts."

This also applies to postgraduate students - nurses after 18 months of training.

It is estimated at around one in six funded midwifery posts are currently vacant, the association added.

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