Hospital chief slams cuts as birth rate squeezes services
THE master of a major maternity hospital has criticised reductions in funding and staff as the birth rate soared.
Master of the Rotunda Dr Sam Coulter-Smith said the rise in births had put enormous pressure on services and there was still no date or even commitment that the Rotunda will be moving from its outdated building to the campus for the new national children's hospital.
The Dublin hospital delivered 8,912 babies in 2009 -- a 34pc surge in seven years, he revealed in the annual report.
Nationally there were 74,278 births in 2009 and there is expected to be only a marginal fall this year despite the recession.
The busiest month for births in Ireland so far in 2010 was September, when more than 6,400 babies were born.
The Rotunda's rate of deaths among babies -- after birth or due to stillbirth -- fell to 6.8 per 1,000 births last year, the lowest in a decade.
A number of these babies had been born with life-threatening birth defects. There was one maternal death.
Dr Coulter-Smith said the results could only be delivered with skilled and dedicated staff who were having to work in "difficult circumstances".
The hospital's Caesarean section rate went up to 28.5pc, compared to 25.5pc a decade ago. This is partly explained by a rise in women who had difficult births previously or babies in difficulty in the womb.
The hospital, located in the city centre, has to deal with many pregnant women suffering social problems. Some 55 women attending its clinics were positive for HIV, up 48.6pc on 2008 figures.
Eleven of these women only found out they had HIV when they are already pregnant and came to the hospital for ante-natal screening.
There were 53 women abusing drugs when they booked with the hospital, and although some stopped using, as many as 28 continued with their addiction despite the dangers to their baby.
The hospital also houses the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit, which examines and treats women and men who have been attacked.
There were 315 people seen at the unit last year, 15 of whom were men. Of these, 135 were students, and in 20 cases the perpetrator was the victim's partner.
The report revealed that 228 (72pc) had been drinking in the 12 hours prior to the assault.
As many as 46 said they had taken so much drink they suffered loss of memory and were not even sure if a sexual assault had taken place.
The age of the victims ranged from as young as 13 years to 57 years.The largest age group was women aged 18 to 25 years.
The busiest month for the unit was August and the busiest day was Sunday.
The majority of the attacks took place between 9pm and 9am.
Most people came within seven days of the assault, and two presented following forced prostitution.