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Hollow ring to concern expressed by politicians

THE stark warnings contained in the annual report of the Rotunda come on a day when the life and health of mothers and babies will be centre stage.

While the report of the expert group on abortion will have safety at its core, the debate about the risks faced by pregnant women and infants in maternity hospitals needs to be widened.

The continued difficulties faced by the Rotunda, Holles Street and the Coombe are not new.

The problem of delivering thousands of babies in outdated buildings, with fewer staff and a cut in funding should be sparking a national debate.

But efforts by different hospital masters to draw attention to the potentially hazardous environment in which they operate have received fleeting attention.

The concern expressed by politicians in recent weeks about the health and safety of pregnant women and infants has a hollow ring when it is clear this Government will make yet more cuts in next week's Budget which will have a negative effect on maternity services.

Sam Coulter Smith is clear about the need for politicians to stop paying lip service to calls for increased investment.

He wrote that it is absolutely vital that these services get on to the political agenda of those who fund the health service.

Yet he notes that there does not seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel and knows that 2013 will be even more difficult.

Although it is customary for masters to praise their staff in annual reports, it is clear that his remarks about nurses and midwives missing meal breaks and staying late to maintain the safety of patients are merited.

Irish Independent