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HIQA concerned about ‘sustainability’ of smaller maternity units

There has been a lack of national coordination in the “evolution” of smaller maternity units, leading to concerns about the sustainability of these services, according to HIQAs Chief Inspector.

The implementation of the national maternity strategy was discussed at a meeting of the HIQA board on November 2019, the minutes of which were seen by this newspaper.

All maternity services were inspected by HIQA last year and a national overview report is due to be published imminently.

In response to questions raised by the board, HIQA’s Chief Inspector and Director of Regulation Ms Mary Dunnion said the individual maternity services have effective systems and processes in place to manage obstetric emergencies.

However, she said that “smaller maternity units are evolving at different rates and not in an overall integrated way and it is difficult to see how services can be sustained without advancement at a national level”.

In terms of concluding the review, HIQA CEO Mr Phleim Quinn and Ms Dunnion were due to meet with the HSE CEO and had asked for an update on the maternity strategy implementation plan.

Recently, Mr Mark Molloy stepped down from his position as patient advocate on the HSE board due to under-funding of the national maternity strategy.

This move prompted the health spokespeople of various parties during the general election campaign to criticise the lack of progress in implementing the strategy.

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