Maternity hospitals need more midwives, says Hiqa
Maternity units should be equipped with more staff to improve the patient-midwife ratio, according to new national standards for safer, better maternity services.
The standards, which were launched yesterday, were drawn up by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) and came in the wake of a series of scandals in recent years which exposed failings in the care and treatment of women and babies.
They place new pressure on maternity hospitals and units to meet the needs of patients.
Hiqa chairman Brian McHenry referred to the failings in maternity care found in units in Galway and Portlaoise in recent years.
"A number of high-profile reviews and investigations conducted by Hiqa, including the 2013 investigation into services at University Hospital Galway and a 2015 Portlaoise investigation report, found serious deficits in the care and support provided to women," he added.
Marie Kehoe-O'Sullivan, Hiqa's director of standards and quality improvement, said: "The maternity standards cover eight themes of care, including person-centred care and support and better health and wellbeing, to improve outcomes for women and their babies.
"These standards are informed by national and international research and best practice, as well as the voices of women, patient advocates and front-line staff who participated in our advisory group, focus groups and public consultation. The standards put women at the centre of what maternity services do."
Launching the standards, Health Minister Simon Harris said: "I have described 2016 as a landmark year for maternity services and this event closes a year which began with this country's first-ever national maternity strategy and which saw agreement on the redevelopment of the new national maternity hospital.
"The standards we are launching today go hand-in-hand with the maternity strategy, which envisages an Ireland where women and babies have access to safe, high-quality care in a setting that is most appropriate to their needs; women and families are placed at the centre of all services and are treated with dignity, respect and compassion; and where parents are supported before, during and after pregnancy to allow them to give their child the best possible start in life."