Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has urged the Minister for Health to “urgently implement the commitments made in the Dáil on Wednesday night following the successful adoption of a Sinn Fein motion in respect of the National Maternity Hospital and Maternity Services”.
Teachta Adams welcomed the decision of the other parties last night to support the Sinn Féin motion which “set out a detail of proposals for improvements to our maternity services including universal access to foetal anomaly screening, the full implementation of the National Maternity Strategy and a commitment to work with nursing and medical unions in the recruitment and retention of medical staff so that all maternity hospitals meet the Birth rate plus standard for midwifery staffing, as well as international standards for consultant obstetricians and gynaecologists”.
Gerry Adams said:
“The ongoing controversy over the ownership and governance of the National Maternity Hospital has put a focus on the provision of maternity care and services.
The decision by the Government to give ownership of the new national maternity hospital to the Sisters of Charity has justifiably manifested itself in massive public concern and anger particularly, though not exclusively, among women.
It is unacceptable that any religious ethos should determine clinical decisions. The hospital should be held in public ownership and have legally guaranteed independence from all non-medical influence in its clinical operations within the laws of the State.
This is a hospital which must carry out treatments such as in vitro fertilisation, IVF, sterilisation, gender reassignment surgery and, in some cases, termination. The notion that the Sisters of Charity must be given ownership of the hospital simply because they own the land is absolute nonsense. There are, as others have said, other options available to the Government and this motion, which will now be passed, will compel the Government to explore these options.
The priority must be to get the hospital built as soon as possible on terms acceptable to citizens, particularly women. We cannot continue with a situation where women and babies are treated in antiquated buildings that are not fit for purpose. Equally, we cannot continue with the situation where our maternity hospitals are operating at dangerously low staffing levels, where women are treated on corridors and where overcrowding and a lack of resources result in tragedy and upset. That is why a key component of this motion is to ensure that the national maternity strategy is implemented and properly funded.
The Minister for Health now needs to act with the utmost urgency to sort out the mess that surrounds the national maternity hospital. I acknowledge his remarks in the Dáil in the course of the debate and now look to him to deliver on his commitments.”
The text of Sinn Féin Dáil Motion:
— that since 2011, maternity services in Ireland have been marked with investigations and, in some cases, alleged cover ups of maternal and child mortality or injury in Portiuncula as well as University Hospital Galway, Portlaoise, Cavan, and Drogheda;
— that Ireland has the lowest number of consultant obstetricians per 100,000 women in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and a consultant obstetrician in Ireland is responsible for 597 births per annum, compared to 268 in Scotland;
— that the three Dublin maternity hospitals are operating at a 17 per cent deficit in the number of midwifery staff needed to run the services;
— that most of the 19 maternity units do not offer foetal anomaly screening, as prenatal ultrasound assessments by qualified sonographers and foetal medicine specialists are not available outside larger units;
— that, despite the enactment of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, there is a dearth of perinatal psychiatrists and other specialists;
— the serious inequalities and absence of resources which exist within the Health Service Executive (HSE) to provide services to children with life-limiting and complex medical needs, and to those under palliative care; and
— that such shortcomings have directly led to tragic incidents involving mothers and children;
acknowledges and supports the findings of:
— the National Maternity Strategy, Palliative Care for Children with Life-limiting Conditions in Ireland – A National Policy by the Department of Health, the HSE National Standards for Bereavement Care following Pregnancy Loss and Perinatal Death, and the Report on End of Life and Palliative Care in Ireland by the Joint Committee on Health and Children in 2014; and
— the National Standards for Safer Better Maternity Services Report by the Health Information and Quality Authority submitted to the Minister for Health;
— that the Programme for a Partnership Government states it will implement the National Maternity Strategy and ‘invest in end of life care, including the provision of hospice and “end of life care” during the perinatal period, infancy, childhood and adulthood’;
— the need for continuity of care for women and parents during pregnancy, at the point of delivery and after birth, inclusive of where children have life-limiting conditions;
— the need to support bereaved parents in their transition out of hospital, with appropriate services and the availability of frontline bereavement counselling;
— that the above is best delivered by medical teams basing their decisions on best medical practice and not in any way beholden to any religious ethos; and
— the plans to move the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street to new, modern facilities at St. Vincent’s Hospital campus; and
calls on the Government to:
— honour commitments in the Programme for a Partnership Government in respect of funding and implementing the National Maternity Strategy;
— ensure that the new National Maternity Hospital is built on the St. Vincent’s Hospital campus as quickly as possible, remains entirely within public ownership and has legally guaranteed independence from all non-medical influence in its clinical operations within the laws of the State;
— ensure swift approval, dissemination and implementation of the National Maternity Standards for Safer Better Maternity Services;
— ensure all maternity hospitals have access to foetal anomaly screening, with the requisite staff and equipment;
— work with nursing and medical unions in the recruitment and retention of medical staff, so that all maternity hospitals meet the Birthrate Plus standard for midwifery staffing, as well as international standards for consultant obstetricians and gynaecologists;
— establish an independent patient advocacy service; and
— implement the recommendations of the Report on End of Life and Palliative Care in Ireland by the Joint Committee on Health and Children in 2014, prioritising those parts relating to care for children with life-limiting conditions.”