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The inspections will form part of the Authority’s programme monitoring of maternity services against the <em>National Standards for Safer Better Maternity Services</em>, published in 2016.
HIQA is currently working on a guidance document that will be published before inspections begin. Its healthcare team has commenced what it is calling the design phase of a new monitoring programme against the national standards.
This monitoring programme will measure hospital compliance with the national standards. The programme will have a particular focus on how prepared hospitals are to deal with obstetric emergencies.
The national standards are intended to cover pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, labour, birth and postnatal care for both the woman and baby (up to six weeks after the birth) and are designed to apply to all maternity services.
They aim to “create a basis for improving the safety and quality of maternity services by identifying strengths and highlighting areas for improvement”.
The standards also set out to “promote practice that is up-to-date, effective and consistent and based on best available evidence”.
“Preparing for this programme will be aided through the input of a specially convened expert advisory group,” according to Mr Sean Egan, Head of Healthcare Regulation.
“This group met for the first time in April. It is intended that all 19 maternity units in the State will be inspected under this programme, with inspections due to start towards the end of 2018.”
“HIQA plans to commence the onsite inspection component of our monitoring programme of maternity services against the <em>National Standards for Safer Better Maternity Services</em> in Q3, 2018,” a spokesperson confirmed to the <strong><em>Medical Independent</em></strong> (<strong><em>MI</em></strong>).
“We will publish a guidance document prior to the onsite inspections in quarter three and this document will include details related to the membership of the advisory group. The methodology for inspections is currently being developed.”
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