Donnelly: Maternity services 'on their knees'

Donnelly: Maternity services 'on their knees'

Safer maternity care, better supports and increased staffing levels are needed to tackle a “very serious gender discrimination” in health services.

Fianna Fáil has made the demand, launching a private members bill outlining the need to overhaul maternity services in Ireland.

Health spokesman Stephen Donnelly outlined the reason for the opposition pressure: "What we are trying to do is to get to the heart of what is broken in our maternity services and what can be done to fix them."

He said it was clear from recent testimonies from women, doctors and midwives that maternity services were “on their knees”.

They need to be invested in, they need to be supported, they need to be helped. Women in Ireland deserve safe, modern, maternity services, so do the dads and so do the babies.

Fianna Fáil maintains there must be choices for women in rural Ireland as to what kind of care they want as services were “not fit for purpose”.

A ten-year national maternity strategy was launched by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, as then minister for health, in 2016, against a backdrop of decades of tragic stories and worrying maternity services.

But chronic underfunding for the strategy has been highlighted, with the HSE recently admitted that just €4 million is being provided for the plan this year.

The strategy was developed originally in response to the death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway several years ago.

Health Minister Simon Harris also admitted recently that there is no funding this year for a new maternity hospital on the St James's Hospital site in Dublin.

Donnelly: Maternity services 'on their knees'

The Fianna Fáil motion notes Ireland's low rate of obstetricians and the number of unfilled posts.

It also calls for a definitive timeframe and funding deployment for the relocation of the standalone maternity hospitals.

The party also wants a guarantee from Government that new public maternity hospitals will not have separate external or internal entrances, nor separate facilities within the hospitals, for private patients.

The motion backed by party TDs also calls for measures to address chronic staff shortages, including ending pay disparity among staff in maternity services.

The Dáil will hear the government's position on the demands later this evening.

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