Wednesday 21 March 2018

Colm O'Boyle: HSE's stranglehold on birth choice has reduced home option to near extinction

Colm O'Boyle

YOU have heard of Hobson's choice. Hobson ran an inn with stables and he offered use of his horses on the condition that you took whichever one was next in his rotation. Basically you could take the horse you were given, or do without. He had a monopoly and a monopoly is a bad thing for the customer.

I wish to argue that, like Hobson, the HSE promotes a virtual monopoly in contemporary Irish maternity services. It offers hospital birth in centralised, acute hospital settings only, take it or leave it.

That is a choice, but hardly an optimal one. All of us, I think, would prefer a real choice between good things. Irish maternity hospitals, like other health services, have been centralised, and so are often inconveniently far away from women's homes. They are under-resourced and have alarmingly high levels of intervention.

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