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Recruitment of lactation consultants ‘challenging’ – HSE

By David Lynch - 02nd Sep 2022

lactation consultants

The HSE has admitted to the Medical Independent (MI) that the recruitment of lactation consultants is “challenging”, but remains a “priority”. 

The HSE National Service Plan 2022 commits to the recruitment of additional lactation consultants to build and enhance breastfeeding supports across all Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs). 

Some 24 new lactation consultant posts were recommended by the Government in 2021 and subsequently approved for funding and permanent appointments. 

According to figures provided by the HSE last month, there were 0.5 whole-time equivalent (WTE) of these 24 posts filled, “with four posts having provisional start dates in August/September 2022.” In total, 14 of the 25 posts have been advertised. 

“While these posts are a priority, it is acknowledged that recruitment is challenging for nursing-related grades due to other competing demands,” the spokesperson told MI

“Filling approved lactation posts remains a priority for the HSE to further build and enhance breastfeeding supports across all Community Healthcare Organisations and Hospital Groups. The recruitment of these posts across services remains a dynamic situation as recruitment is ongoing.” 

According to HSE figures, there are approximately 200 staff working in a variety of nursing, midwifery, medical, and allied health professional roles who have the international board-certified lactation consultant qualification. 

“There [are] currently 32.9 [WTE] dedicated infant feeding/lactation posts in place across maternity (24.6) and community services (8.3), which is an increase from 15.4 [WTE] posts in place across the HSE in 2017. 

“The HSE also recruited a national lead at the end of 2021 to support implementation of infant feeding standards within maternity services.” 

The national service plan stated that CHOs and Hospital Groups would be supported to improve breastfeeding rates in line with the Breastfeeding in a Healthy Ireland – the Health Service Breastfeeding Action Plan 2016-2021

This would be achieved by developing and implementing a new breastfeeding training programme for midwives and public health nurses, and supporting the implementation of the HSE policy on the Code of Practice for Breastmilk Substitutes.

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