In response to the continuing maternity restrictions, (despite a fully vaccinated health service and the opening up of every other aspect of society), AIMS Ireland submitted a series of PQs on May 12th to the Minister of Health via Thomas Pringle TD. We still await a response.
AIMS Ireland have held position that maternity care restrictions labelled as due to Covid 19 infection risks were symptomatic and opportunistic of much deeper issues in the Irish Maternity services including limiting patient advocacy and agency and trying to enforce a medicalised interventionist approach to childbirth on all pregnant and birthing people.
We are concerned about the Minister of Health’s comments with regards to writing to the 19 maternity units and stating they are to comply with easing, but then in same breath saying that localized considerations / safety can be a reason for why units can uphold partner restrictions.
We also have concerns as to how “compliance” was devised. Why for example was a 30 minute postnatal visit deemed an appropriate standard? Who was consulted in the creation of this standard of compliance? To the best of our knowledge no patient advocacy groups were consulted. This was a top down decision based on what people who are not experiencing the maternity services as a pregnant person decided was appropriate.
We have always called for a uniformed approach but been told this is not possible. Recent reports indicate that the Minister is now considering a uniformed approach. Will this bring all units to the lowest possible common denominator? Or will units be expected to offer the best possible support to pregnant and birthing people, following international and evidence based guidance, truly putting them at the centre of their care?
We continue to ask if the circumstances to limit partner presence in all aspects of pregnancy labour and postnatal care are actually Covid specific?
We are hearing from women that maternity units are saying they can’t lift restrictions due to infrastructure. So are women’s rights going to continue to be restricted on the basis that there has been a failure to invest in expanding services and that the National Maternity Strategy hasn’t been implemented by successive governments? Could we see restrictions continue because a unit is understaffed?
May 12th 2021
PQ: To the Minister for Health, what are the specific grounds identified by the department of health and HSE, on which a maternity unit is exempt from lifting partner restrictions for maternity service users?
To ask the Minister for Health;
Will he will make a statement on the matter.
Submitted by Thomas Pringle TD