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28 Nov 2021

Coombe may not be able to cope with Portlaoise maternity referrals

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The results of a midwifery staffing survey, carried out by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, reveal that the Dublin hospital tasked with backing the Portlaoise maternity unit may not be able to cope with demands.

The results of a midwifery staffing survey, carried out by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, reveal that the Dublin hospital tasked with backing the Portlaoise maternity unit may not be able to cope with demands.

The staffing survey, carried out in February, also “confirms” the following:

“The maternity unit in Portlaoise is the poorest staffed unit, in the country, at a ratio of one midwife to 55 births and requires 33 additional midwives, immediately, to reach the recommended ratio.

“The Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, which is now the support, for Portlaoise, is itself severely understaffed with a midwife to birth ratio of 1 : 40.

“This must raise questions over its ability to look after high risk pregnancies referred from Portlaoise,” says the INMO.

The Union adds that there is a ‘critical shortage of midwives’ in all 19 maternity hospitals/units”.

In addition the survey finds that the internationally recommended midwife to birth ratio, of 1 : 29.5 births, is not in place, in any of our hospitals/units, with the ratio varying from 1 : 30 to 1 : 55 and a national average of 1 : 38.

However, speaking in the Dail today (Thursday, March 6) the Minister for Health James Reilly and his Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan have stood by the findings of Dr Holohan’s report that staffing was not the cause of baby deaths at the hospital.

Dr Reilly said that while staffing levels have an impact, it did not explain all the issues in Portlaoise. “What was done was unacceptable at a human level,” he said.

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