The former master of the National Maternity Hospital has claimed some consultant posts are now “so unattractive that no applications are received”.
Dr Peter Boylan, chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, told the Joint Committee on Health that the National Maternity Strategy 2016-2026 needs to address a number of priorities if it is to deliver the type of system the country needs.
He highlighted “the deficiency in medical staff numbers”, including at consultant level.
Regarding a lack of applications, he said: “This is a major change from a decade ago and requires urgent and realistic action by the State.”
Dr Boylan referred to there being only three perinatal psychiatrists in the country, all in Dublin. “Women are served badly in this respect,” he said.
He said there is a “well-recognised deficiency at national level in access to ultrasound services”.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said it was “increasingly concerned” at the strategy’s slow implementation and with “the low midwife to birth staffing ratios which continue to exist in this country”.
Regarding HSE figures outlining how 63 midwives were recruited last year, the INMO claimed “the reality is that our maternity services are severely understaffed” and argued there is “a funding barrier to realistic workforce/manpower planning” at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
The INMO said: “Ireland is currently unable to retain or recruit sufficient numbers of nurses and midwives to continue to provide safe levels of service to the current model of care delivery.”
Killian McGrane, national programme director of the National Women and Infants Health programme in the HSE, said priority areas of anomaly scanning, model of care, and quality and safety had been prioritised for 2018.
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