AIMS Ireland responds to Joe Duffy RTE Radio 1 Liveline birth stories

AIMS Ireland welcomes the attention given on The Joe Duffy RTE Radio 1 Show Liveline to users of the Irish Maternity Services who have experienced poor care.

RTE was inundated last week with stories from women, some from the recent past and some from a long time ago. These stories are not new to AIMS. We were formed in 2007 as a response to such stories.

What is new is that finally they are being aired publicly without a need to devalue or undermine them by sharing positive stories or by focusing on the needs of staff.

AIMS Ireland Chair Krysia Lynch said “Improvements to our maternity services could certainly benefit from additional resources. However, what is needed in addition to more funding is a compassionate, dignified, kind, consensual, respectful maternity service that genuinely puts the pregnant person at the centre of their care.”

On behalf of all the women mothers and pregnant people AIMSI have worked with over the last 12 years we would like to say a big thank you to Liveline for all that has been aired on the show during the last week. Since its inception AIMS representatives have sat on numerous National Regional and Local Maternity Committees and Advisory Groups. We continuously find ourselves repeating these words; listen to women, be compassionate, be kind, preserve dignity, always seek consent, trust the pregnant person to make their own decisions, seek a partnership with the family you are supporting but sadly this has generally fallen on deaf ears.

All the issues raised in the Liveline show came up in the first “What Matters to You” Survey commissioned by AIMSI in 2007 and in the second survey in 2007 on consent and availability of information. In 2010, all these issues came up again in the second AIMS “What Matters to You” survey, and in 2014 in the third AIMS “What Matters to You Survey”.

In 2013 all this issues started to be raised in the AIMS blog No Country for Pregnant Women and in 2014 AIMSI started the AIMSI Shout Back FB page to further air issues such as these.

In 2015, AIMSI raised all these issues in The Steering Group of the National Maternity Strategy. In  2015, these issues came up yet again in the Strategy’s own survey of maternity care carried out by the Institute of Public Health. In 2016, AIMSs and other service user groups raised these issues again with HIQA in their Standards for Better Safer Maternity Care Advisory Group. In 2017, AIMSI even raised these issues at the Dail when we were asked to come in and address the Health Committee on the National Maternity Strategy.

From 2017 to date many service user representatives have continued raising these issues directly with the National Women’s Health Program (Charged with driving forward maternity care in Ireland). Don’t tell us the HSE doesn’t already know what women’s experiences are. They do.

There is no doubt that clinicians mostly do their best with limited resources, but many of the issues raised maternity service users in general have absolutely nothing to do with funding. They are about dignity and respect. These cost nothing, but are in short supply in our maternity services.

Maternity Health Care Professionals should all take a long look at themselves in the mirror and say “I am part of the problem”. If there was some ownership in the way women and their families are treated then change can happen.

Lynch concluded “To think that our Maternity System considers women to be at the centre of maternity care is laughable. They most certainly are not and never have been in Ireland. Unless they birth at home, women are “processed” through the maternity services; the vast majority come out alive, most just accept their experience and move on, but some are profoundly wounded emotionally and physically and until this week they have been utterly ignored”.

“At the very least acknowledging what happens to some people in the maternity services is a start. Liveline has done what no other program or social media campaign or survey has been able to do so far; it has given women a voice and the courage to speak up for the world to hear, and the women have spoken so loudly that they can’t be ignored. Thank you Joe for enabling this.”

AIMS Ireland would like to acknowledge that many health care professionals within the Irish Maternity Service are kind and compassionate and genuinely make an effort to be women centred. We have shared many positive birth stories on our page

For more on AIMS Ireland Surveys see

#joeduffy #liveline #shoutback #mybirthstory #irishmatexp

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