IT seems extraordinary that this is the first time that Ireland will have a national maternity system that is actually focused on the mother.
It is not before time that women are to be offered as natural a birth as possible, in a safe environment, under the new National Maternity Strategy.
According to the Department of Health, this new approach is a fundamental overhaul of services which aims to improve safety and quality, as well as standardising care across all maternity units. The strategy was developed in response to a number of baby deaths at Portlaoise Hospital, and the death of Savita Halappanavar at University Hospital Galway.
The plan promises to put women and families at the centre of all services and to treat them with dignity and compassion.
The new strategy will involve the establishment of a new community midwifery service which is designed to facilitate better continuity of care and more choice in birth, with better information and communication throughout the different stages of pregnancy and birth.
The announcement of the strategy yesterday has, understandably, been given a broad welcome by the medical profession, in particular the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, a group that is never slow to criticise health services.
It is to be hoped that the strategy will help to avoid tragic maternity outcomes like those that occurred in recent years.
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