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Large deficit in midwife numbers at Rotunda

There is a ratio of one midwife per 41 births at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin compared to an international benchmark of one midwife per 29.5 births, heard a meeting of the hospital’s board.

This translated to a deficit of 80 whole-time equivalents, according to a presentation on workforce planning by Director of Midwifery and Nursing Ms Fiona Hanrahan.

The “consequences of staff shortages were discussed and impact on patient experience on postnatal ward with inadequate support for breast feeding”, stated minutes of the October board meeting.

A Rotunda spokesperson told the Medical Independent it has “an active and ongoing campaign to recruit midwives” and successfully retained student midwives in 2020.

The hospital had “proactively highlighted” the deficit to funders – RCSI Hospitals and HSE National Women and Infants Health Programme (NWIHP) – and sought adjustments to the head count budget. “This has been supported by the RCSI Hospitals Group and NWIHP within the parameters of healthcare budgets.”

Last year, a HIQA overview report of maternity service inspections stated that hospitals were “very reliant on frontline medical staff working onerous rosters and midwifery staff working overtime to maintain service levels”.

HIQA expressed concern about the impact of national midwifery shortages on “the ability to provide safe, high quality care” and on development of care pathways in the National Maternity Strategy.

Last month, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation welcomed a €12 million investment in delivering the maternity strategy under the HSE National Service Plan 2021.

However, it emphasised the need for expansion of midwife-led units and measures to ensure safe midwife-to-birth ratios.

The union called for detail on “specific funding for required additional nurses and midwives”

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