Midwives used to “paper over cracks” in maternity services
Press release 12.2.20
Midwives are working at an unsustainable rate to provide care for patients, a new report from the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has found.
The report found that while key patient outcomes were good and staff were “excellent”, the maternity system was understaffed and “very reliant” on “midwifery staff working overtime to maintain service levels”.
The INMO said that this is further evidence of the chronic understaffing in Ireland’s nineteen maternity units and that midwives’ dedication was being used to “paper over cracks” in the service.
The union called for the long-delayed implementation of the National Maternity Strategy, which would increase midwife-led care and bring staffing levels up to the scientifically safe level of no more than 29.5 births per midwife.
The union is calling for:
- Immediate HSE approval of midwifery posts to reach safe staffing levels
- An end to the HSE recruitment freeze in nursing and midwifery
- A renewed commitment from the next government to implement the National Maternity Strategy, including expanded midwife-led units
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said:
“This report rightly celebrates the incredible dedication and skill of Ireland’s midwives. But their commitment is being abused and their hard work used to paper over cracks in staffing.
“There is a very clear strategy for the maternity service, but the HSE hasn’t properly implemented it. We need to lift the recruitment embargo, get the staffing levels right, and pay them a fair, competitive wage.
“Part of this comes down to speed. Whether it’s recruitment, the strike settlement or the maternity strategy, the HSE’s go-slow approach has left midwives in an unsustainable position.
“Yesterday’s Intensive Care Unit audit shows that there simply isn’t enough capacity across the health service. Building up staffing and capacity must be a key goal for the next government.”