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Major delay on Maternity Strategy’s implementation plan

Substantive work on the plan has not yet begun and the HSE provided no timeline as to when it will be published. A chair for the Maternity Guideline Development Group, a key recommendation of the Strategy, has also yet to be appointed.

The HSE Women and Infants Programme Office, which is responsible for developing and delivering the implementation plan, is still “in the process of being established”, a HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI).

A number of posts for this Office have been advertised including those of Programme Director, Clinical Director, and Director of Midwifery. However, the recruitment process has been “unsuccessful to date” and it is intended to re-advertise again this year. The Office “will play a key role in operationalising the Maternity Strategy”.

The HSE’s spokesperson added that a number of initiatives “consistent with the Strategy” are underway.

According to the HSE, 13 director of midwifery posts were advertised earlier this year to ensure all 19 maternity units have senior leadership and decision-makers in post. This was also a key recommendation in the HIQA Portlaoise Report (May 2015) and the posts advertised are “consistent with the Strategy”.

Nevertheless, only six of the 13 posts have been filled and recruitment is “ongoing”.

The HSE also referred to publication by maternity units of maternity safety statements and that of the National Bereavement Guidelines following Perinatal Death and Baby Loss.

Some €3 million in development funding has been provided by Government for maternity services this year in the HSE National Service Plan 2016.

This has enabled the HSE to approve recruitment of additional staff to support the work of current staff in “the provision of safer and more comprehensive services”. This includes approval for an additional 100 midwives, 14 bereavement specialists and “other additional clinical posts” such as consultant neonatologists, perinatal pathologist, and patient advocacy.

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