Press Release from AIMS Ireland – Maternity Care Restrictions  

The Minister of Health announced yesterday that 14 of the country’s maternity units were fully compliant with the national guidance and five were not. One of the key criteria for compliance was that partners were enabled to be present for the entire duration of labour including early labour and the full process of medical induction.

There is a huge dissonance now between submitted compliance from the 14 maternity units and the experiences of birthing people in those 14 units. As of yesterday (after the submissions had been made to the HSE), women in labour were still on their own in early labour all night in the major Dublin maternity hospitals, all of whom had assured the Minister that people were being fully accompanied throughout their labouring process.

Responding to the Minister’s statement, AIMS Ireland Chair Krysia Lynch said, “There seems to be some confusion surrounding the definition of what constitutes “labour”. As far as service users are concerned labour starts when contractions start, and people present at a maternity hospital when they can no longer manage contractions at home. Many of these women find that when they arrive at their maternity unit with contractions coming thick and fast, they are told they are “not in labour” and their partners are not entitled to attend with them. Their partners then end up in the car park for hours waiting for the hospital staff to decide that labour has truly begun. Meanwhile, inside, the labouring woman struggles with labour alone”.

It is highly disingenuous of the HSE, the Minister of Health and the maternity hospitals in question to suggest that labouring people are being accompanied all the way through labour when clearly they are not. Pregnant people are angry and feel that the public are being deliberately deceived in an effort to remove this issue from the public eye.

Discussing the other parameters Krysia Lynch continued, “It is unclear why, or how these four parameters were selected as criteria for compliance. There was certainly no service user involvement. The issue of anomaly scans is also problematic as several units, such as Limerick, do not even offer routine anomaly scans. Meanwhile, UCHG have been informing people in writing that the quality of the scan that is being offered may not be sufficient to detect anomalies the scan would normally achieve. In other words, it may not be fit for purpose. Pregnant people want their partners all the way through their antenatal care; presence at a single 15 minute scan does not encompass the level of support that pregnant people are looking for or deserve”.

With anger mounting, national Protests continue today at The Rotunda, UCHG and Cavan General Hospital.


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