A HOSPITAL was forced to apologise after failing to provide tea and toast to a mother who had just given birth.
St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny blamed low levels of night staffing for the problem.
The hospital says it "regrets that a staff member was not available to provide a cup of tea/coffee on the night in question".
Stacey Hayden from Carlow, who gave birth to her second child, Ellie, in St Luke's, said she was shocked that cutbacks meant there were no domestic staff to provide tea after she gave birth.
Her mother-in-law Paula Norton said she was "disgusted".
"I live in Kildare so when I got the call that little Ellie was born, I went straight to the hospital. I was there when she was 40 minutes old.
"They were wheeling mum and daughter out of the delivery suite and I asked her, 'Did you get a cup of tea?'. When I asked one of the staff in the hospital if there was any chance of getting a cuppa for Stacey, I was told, 'Sorry, we lost our domestic, we don't have the facility'.
"I thought, 'You're joking, there's a young girl here who has just given birth'," she told Ray D'arcy on 'Today FM'.
Mrs Norton, the mother of Stacey's partner Steven Norton, was full of praise for the nurses and midwives.
But she criticised the effect of cutbacks on nursing mothers.
"It was only 10 past eight in the evening and you couldn't get as much as a cup of tea; it's shocking that mothers are treated like that.
"I think the Minister for Health should be ashamed, it's scandalous. If a cat just had kittens, you'd give it a saucer of milk. This is the meanest cutback of all," she added.
The HSE responded last night by stating that it provided a full catering service from 7.45am to 8pm daily.
"At night, staffing levels across the hospital are lower and, unfortunately, it can be difficult sometimes for staff to provide tea/coffee to patients during the night when they are busy with other tasks," it said.
The statement said that there was a partners' room with tea- and coffee-making facilities.
"The hospital regrets that a staff member was not available to provide a cup of tea/coffee on the night in question," it added.