The HSE has declined to clarify the number of new midwives to be recruited in Portlaoise Hospital, and IMNO claims that the number is far too low to improve the standard of care given to mothers and babies in the unit.
According to IMNO, many of the new maternity staff positions in Portlaoise Hospital will be ‘simply replacing’ agency midwives, meaning that the midwives to births ratio in the hospital will not improve.
The international standard ratio for midwives to births is 1:29, however Portlaoise maternity unit is well below this with a ratio of 1:55, according to IMNO.
In response to these claims, the HSE could not clarify the exact number of midwives they were recruiting.
They did say however that they were currently recruiting staff to bring the numbers up to comparable levels, “to ensure a consistent level of care.”
The HSE advertised a range of specialist staffing positions for the unit recently because it was “an urgent service requirement.”
Lorraine Monaghan, Midlands Regional Officer for the IMNO, welcomed the new posts but said that the unit is still far off reaching the level of care required.
“These posts are long overdue, and they are imperative to providing the best services.
“However, there is a high dependency on agency midwives in Portlaoise, and many of these new posts will simply be replacing the agency midwives.
“The number of positions advertised will not go towards improving the ratio of midwives to births in the hospital,” she told the Leinster Express.
Ms Monaghan said that if the ratio doesn’t improve, then neither will services.
“There is a requirement for a lot more work in the unit. Mothers need to be confident in using this service,” she said.