Portlaoise hospital's maternity unit is now better staffed that some of the Dublin hospitals with more senior staff due to come on stream according to the Minister for Health.
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar is also happy that the maternity services stabilised in the wake of the Primetime programme and subsequent Hiqa inquiry in to the deaths of babies.
“Yes I am happy. It is never possible to say that any maternity service anywhere in the country is 100 per cent safe and unfortunately obstetrics involves a lot of uncertainty,” he said.
Portlaoise's links with the Coombe hospital are continuing to expand.
“The link up with the Coombe is working very well. I’m delighted that Dr Michael Connell is here two days a week from the Coombe. There are now 70 midwives employed here so it is one of the best staffed maternity units in the country, much better staffed than any of the Dublin hospitals.
“The two consultant posts which will be shared between here and the Coombe are being advertised. Women are getting scans early in their pregnancy if they are high risk,” he said.
He said maternity services would remain in Portlaoise but not isolated.
“There are about 1,600 births here a year. That is not small by international standards. ...What we have learned not just from Portlaoise is that stand alone units of that size do present particular challenges and what we intend to do is create managed maternity networks where the smaller units are linked up and integrated with the big teaching hospitals,” the health minister said.