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Cash crisis is putting babies at risk, warns Rotunda chief

THE lives of mothers and children are being put at risk because of a lack of investment into maternity services, a hospital chief has warned.

Dr Sam Coulter-Smith, Master of Dublin's Rotunda Hospital, spoke of the dangers of not increasing infrastructure and staff members at the country's largest maternity hospital.

Dr Coulter-Smith said that the Rotunda was not able to deal with several emergencies at once, due to a lack of investment.

"With multiple emergencies happening at the same time, we just don't have enough medical and clinical staff.

"We have nine delivery rooms -- we need 16.We have two [gynaecology] operation theatres and a caesarean section theatre, we need an additional caesarean theatre.

"We need more midwives, we've cut our gynae activity by 50pc so in order to bring that back up, we need theatre space.

"But it's basically down to infrastructure and staffing, we need an investments in both of those."

Dr Coulter-Smith remarked that the number of inhabitants in that area of Dublin had increased far more than expected and that it had nearly reached predictions for 2016.

"The population in this area of the country and of the city has been increasing.

"As activity levels have risen, the risk has gone up, and we don't have the infrastructure to deal with that level of activity - we don't have enough midwives, I'm concerned that this issue isn't addressed."

While he understands that the HSE is doing what it can, given the tough economic climate, Dr Coulter-Smith insisted it was "not enough".

"We've been talking to the HSE, I met Mr O'Reilly and to be fair to the HSE, they don't have any money and they're trying to do with what they've got ... they have tried to protect us to some extent from the cuts from but its not enough."

The Rotunda may not be the only hospital in the country affected by the recruitment moratorium and budget cuts, but it is the "pinnacle" of the problem because it caters for the greatest number of pregnancies in the country.

The hospital was designed to handle 6,500 births a year, but copes with about 10,000 deliveries.