The HSE is aiming to complete a review of the Maternity and Infant Care Scheme in quarter three of this year.
“Work has commenced to identify relevant stakeholders and to collate data and information with regard to the management and operation of the scheme,” a spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI). “There will be proactive consultation will all relevant stakeholder groups, including service users.”
The last review of the scheme was undertaken in 1994 and a report published in 1997, according to the HSE.
The National Maternity Strategy 2016-2026 recommended a review of the scheme and implementation of any necessary adaptations to reflect the model of care proposed in the strategy.
The maternity strategy stated that any such review would consider the feasibility of extending coverage to include a preconception consultation and postnatal check at three/four months and/or additional postnatal GP visits where further pregnancy-related needs have been identified.
The strategy also recommended that the reimbursement of GPs under the scheme was centralised in the Primary Care Reimbursement Service, which has since occurred.
The scope of the review will be defined in consultation with the Department of Health and other key stakeholders, the HSE informed MI.
“Further to this review and assessment, a report will be prepared providing an overview of the current scheme, identifying and describing any gaps and/or deficiencies from both a service provider and service user perspective, and providing recommendations, as appropriate, to the Minister
The Maternity and Infant Care Scheme provides an agreed programme of care to an expectant mother and her new-born baby for up to six weeks after birth. Women with “major conditions” (eg, diabetes, hypertension) may also have up to five additional visits with their GP. Care for illnesses not related to pregnancy does not form part of the scheme, according to the HSE.
In 2021 MI reported on GPs’ concerns that legitimate claims for additional visits were being rejected by the HSE. Data released to this newspaper under Freedom of Information law, covering mid-2019 to the end of 2021, showed a major rise in rejected claims and then a consistent decline in the latter half of 2021.
The HSE’s spokesperson said the terms of the scheme for GPs are set out in an agreement.
“As key stakeholders, GPs will be engaged and consulted with over the course of the review of the scheme,” they added.