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Statement on Maternity Services at Portiuncula

In response to a series of reports into Ireland’s maternity services, last year the HSE established a National Group to oversee the implementation of a series of recommendations arising from these reports. This group has developed implementation plans for 2014 to build on the many initiatives that are already underway in maternity services and to implement the recommendations.
It is in this context that a review of the existing models of maternity services care is being conducted across the West/North West Hospitals Group, including the maternity units Portiuncula Hospital Ballinasloe, University Hospital Galway, Mayo General Hospital, Sligo Regional Hospital and Letterkenny General Hospital.
To be absolutely clear, no services reconfiguration options have been recommended to or approved by the Board of West / North West Hospitals Group or by the senior management of the Group. Feasibility studies have not even been carried out and, as stated previously, speculation at this early stage in the process is unhelpful and upsetting for patients and staff.
As part of the stakeholder consultation with existing maternity hospital staff across the West / North West Hospitals Group that was agreed at the Group’s February board meeting, Dr Geraldine Gaffney, Clinical Director of the Group’s Women’s and Children’s Directorate met with maternity staff at Portiuncula Hospital on Friday 09 May.
Dr Gaffney was accompanied by Ms Deirdre Foley Woods of The Health Partnership, a specialist independent healthcare consultancy that has been retained by the West / North West Hospitals Group to help with the maternity services review. It was made very clear at that meeting that no decision has been made about the reconfiguration of services and staff were clearly advised that there are no planned closures of maternity services.
There was a very informative discussion on the different service models including Midwife Led Units co-located with existing obstetric units.
Staff were also advised that the West / North West Hospitals Group will draw up a public engagement strategy to determine the level of support for midwifery led care in conjunction with existing obstetric services. A Director of Midwifery Services, who will be taking up post in the summer of 2014, will be responsible for coordinating this public engagement strategy.
The new Director of Midwifery Services, together with the recently seconded Professor Declan Devane, Chair of Midwifery at the School of Nursing and Midwifery NUI Galway, will also look at pathways of care across the Group. This is a further demonstration of the Group’s commitment to ensure that all women accessing our maternity services receive best care from the most appropriate professional in the most appropriate setting.
When complete, the review of Maternity Services for the West/North West Hospitals Group will be considered as part of the broader national review of maternity services (as per the HIQA recommendations), which will be led by the Department of Health with input from the HSE.