Minister says maternity care will be safe
Health Minister James Reilly has moved to clarify a recent statement made by the HSE's Director of Obstetrics on irishhealth.com that maternal mortality could rise if adequate resources were not provided for maternity care.
The Minister was answering questions in the Dail yesterday about the effect of the mass HSE staff exodus on maternity services.
Fianna Fail health spokesman Deputy Billy Kelleher pointed out that HSE obstetrics chief Prof Michael Turner had indicated that staff reductions could have an impact on Ireland's maternal and infant mortality rates.
Dr Reilly replied: "Deputy Kelleher quoted Prof Michael Turner, but he will note that the word 'could' is in there. If the Deputy was prepared to read the remainder of Prof Turner's statement he would see there is a big 'if' in there also."
The Minister said Prof Turner had said there could be a serious problem if proper measures were not put in place.
"However the plans are in place and the measures will be in place also. Maternity is an area we are particularly concerned with, but the Deputy will find that many of the midwives leaving our service will be replaced."
Dr Reilly said in Limerick University Hospital 16.5 wholetime, equivalent midwives were due to leave the service and there was provision for 15 to be in place when that happened.
He said he was satisfied that suitable arrangements were in place at national, regional and service-specific levels to manage the impact of staff exist on frontline services.
Deputy Kelleher critifised the failure to date to publish a national contingency plan outlining how the staff exits woiuld be dealt with.
The latest estimate is that 4,200 are set to leave the health service by the end of the month under the current spate of early retirements.
[Posted: Thu 16/02/2012]