Women having babies in Portlaoise hospital have complimented staff on ‘excellent’ care but first time mothers remain ‘nervous’ and are going elsewhere, according to the hospital’s Director of Nursing.
Angela Dunne took over as Director of Midwifery in 2014. She has been to the fore in the overhaul of services but also was part of the clinical review that investigated the deaths of babies and other problems that emerged.
Because of her experience she is on the National Women and Infants Programme which is coordinating an overhaul of maternity services nationally. She is now Director of Nursing at the Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise.
“The services at Portlaoise are safe,” she told the Leinster Express at the press conference in Dublin to launch the clinical review.
“A lot of work has gone into implementing lessons. That is why it was important that I sat on the review team because I was able to bring back the feedback from the patients and their experiences to implement the training required,” said the director.
She said staffing is almost at the level that is needed.
“As regards staffing it was difficult to recruit when we were going through the circumstances that we were going through at the time. We have done very well since. A lot of midwives want to work in Portlaoise. We have one or two midwife vacancies at the moment,” she said.
Birth rates have dipped nationally and slowed in Laois but there has been a marked decline in number of women attending Portlaoise hospital. There were 1,470 births in 2016, down 900 since the 2010 peak.
“Our difficulty is with first time mothers who haven’t had the experience going through our services. Mothers who have had babies there are coming back and the compliments are excellent.
“The drop in numbers is prima gravia (first time) mothers who are nervous about coming to the hospital,” she said.
The midwife added that two obstetricians and two neonatologists have joined in shared posts with the Coombe Hospital, which part runs the unit.
While, the physical infrastructure of the unit has been criticised, Ms Dunne said there had been improvements including the opening of a bereavement room next September.
There are also plans to extend outpatients.