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ADC - Call for MLUs in every maternity hospital

The INMO is to immediately engage in negotiations with the HSE and the Department of Health to establish midwifery- led maternity units in every major maternity hospital in the country.

Pro posing amotion to this end, Terry Clarke, Drogheda Branch, said that the midwifery- led unit commenced as a pilot service in Drogheda and Cavan hospitals. The two units are now approaching their 10th anniversary with in excess of 1,000 babies delivered safely under the care of midwives.

“The MidU Study, which evaluated the service, concluded that the two units in the Irish setting proves that low risk women delivered under exclusive midwifery care had no greater risk of adverse neonatal outcome than those cared for in obstetric- led units.

“The mothers delivered had increased benefits of knowing their midwife, a greater feeling of empowerment, and the advantage of postnatal visits. In a time when we are seeing highly qualified and newly qualified midwives leaving the country, it would be of benefit to both the health services and the clients that the HSE invest in the rich resource of the midwives’ unique skills and knowledge already available to them,” said Ms Clarke.

She added that removing the lowest risk women to midwifery- led units would assist dedicated midwives with their obstetric colleagues to concentrate on the identified higher-risk obstetric women, thus promoting patient safety.

Despite this demonstrable safety benefit, last year 19% of women delivered babies in the consultant-led unit in Drogheda hospital that could have been delivered in the midwifery-led section, with an associated significant cost saving to the HSE.

Terry Clarke, Drogheda Branch

Veronica Farley, Cavan branch, told the AGM that evidence worldwide supports midwifery-led care for low-risk women, and the Drogheda/Cavan pilot units were intended to provide Irish evidence to support this well known fact, paving the way for the establishment of similar units in all the major hospitals nationwide.

“This has not happened,” she stressed. “Mainly because there was not enough pressure politically and other units did not push forward enough either, due in part to a lack of support from the consultants as a group, because of their perceived loss of autonomy; midwives as a profession not pushing for it enough; hospital management not supporting it; and not enough vocal advocates for the cause.

“So today I urge the conference, you as delegates, you as potential parents and grandparents, to support the motion and to give the women of Ireland the choice they deserve.”

Mary Leahy of the executive council recommended that the INMO should ensure that women who opt for midwifery-led care are also entitled to avail of a private room, using their private health insurance, should they so wish. At present, only a consultant can sanction this.

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Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (Cumann Altrai agus Ban Cabhrach na hEireann). The Whitworth Building, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7. T:+353 1 664 0600 E:inmo@inmo.ie