Implementation of the national maternity strategy has been underfunded by almost €9 million this year, due to the absence of any new development funding, the Medical Independent (MI) understands.
A HSE quarterly report submitted to the Department of Health, dated 30 June, stated: “No new development funding was provided for maternity in 2023. As part of the mid-strategy review of the implementation of the National Maternity Strategy, a revised costed, time-bound implementation plan was developed. Pay and non-pay costs identified for 2023 amounted to €8.7 million.”
The level of underfunding in 2023 represented “just under 20 per cent of the total estimated funding required to fully implement the strategy 2022-2026 (€43.6 million)”, outlined the report from the HSE National Women and Infants Health Programme (NWIHP).
In the 2023 estimates the NWIHP had sought €8.55 million for an additional 105.6 whole-time equivalents (WTEs) to support maternity services.
The strengthening of governance structures was one of the measures impacted by the absence of new development funding, according to the report. This process would have involved “increasing the presence and availability of senior decision-makers from both a medical and midwifery perspective”.
The expansion of provision of care in a range of areas, such as postnatal supports, maternity-related diabetes, medical social work, and dietetics, had also been affected. The report was obtained from the Department under Freedom of Information law.
Asked about funding for the maternity strategy in 2024, a HSE spokesperson told MI: “Taking into account funding received in previous years, NWIHP put forward an estimate submission of €4.5 million for new service development funding for maternity for 2024. We will await the letter of determination to establish funding allocation.”
Last month, media reports indicated that Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly was unsuccessful in obtaining additional funding for the maternity strategy for 2024.