Friday 20 September 2019

Warning on maternity care 'capability and capacity' amid lack of funding

Waiting list: Former NMH master Dr Rhona Mahony. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Waiting list: Former NMH master Dr Rhona Mahony. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

There is a need to develop "capacity and capability" in maternity services but no new funding to do so, a senior HSE manager has warned.

The issue was raised by Angela Fitzgerald - the HSE deputy director whose department oversees acute hospitals - in a briefing for new director general Paul Reid.

The document says there is a "requirement to develop capacity and capability within maternity units" but it adds there is "no new funding provision in 2019".

It comes amid a warning from Dr Rhona Mahony - the former master of the National Maternity Hospital - that the waiting list of 30,000 women to see a gynaecologist is having a negative effect on their lives. The queue of women patients who need to be seen by a specialist has escalated by 43pc in five years.

In her briefing for Mr Reid, Ms Fitzgerald also outlines "clinical/corporate risks" in relation to capital infrastructure projects. The document raises concern over the impact of the new National Children's Hospital - where costs have spiralled - and the planned new National Maternity Hospital (NMH) on "available capital to address critical priorities".

The issue of the delayed HSE Capital Plan for 2019 is highlighted by Jane Carolan, the HSE national director for Health Business Services in her briefing for Mr Reid.

It says that "concerns around the Capital Programme 2019 and beyond continue to be challenging and time consuming". "Significant projects" like the National Forensic Hospital and new facilities in Drogheda are said to be advancing.

However, it notes that a ward block project in Limerick was brought to contract stage but was not yet awarded "due to lack of funding".

A HSE spokesperson said it has established a National Women and Infants Programme and there is "dedicated funding and investment for maternity services". A statement added: "Significant funding provided in 2018 to support the implementation of the strategy and the full year costs were provided in 2019."

Irish Independent

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