Midwives In Limerick Hold Protest Over Staffing Levels

Midwives at the University Maternity Hospital in Limerick have held a protest over inadequate and unsafe staffing levels.

The protest was held at lunchtime on Friday, 02 October, by members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and SIPTU Nursing outside the University Maternity Hospital, Limerick.

Since February 2015 midwives have engaged, via their unions, with HSE management on a range of issues arising from the compromising of care at the hospital caused by the following:

• Significant increases in activity and complexity of mothers presenting at the hospital.

• Totally inadequate, historically based, midwifery staffing levels:

- Inadequate staffing levels in the labour ward at night

- Unsafe levels of staffing, on a 24/7 basis, in the hospital's Emergency Unit;

• Wholly inadequate numbers of essential support staff i.e. portering/clerical staff.

• Significant increase in demand for the Neonatal service. May to August 2015 has seen a 22% increase in activity compared to 2014, and, June 2015 had a 40% increase compared to June 2014.

• Poor control of elective activity at the hospital i.e. elective inductions of labour and caesarean sections occur on a 24 hour basis regardless of staffing levels.

• Inability of midwives to attend to the psychological support of mothers who have suffered a bereavement, have a high risk pregnancy, probability of birth defects or have a new baby with a disability.

• Loss, in recent years, of expert midwives due to retirements, etc. with no concurrent HSE recruitment. This has left a significant clinical skills deficit at the hospital with junior midwives being assigned to take charge of busy and complex maternity wards which is compounded by inadequate midwife to mother/birth ratios:

- Ante/postnatal wards are often full with 28 mothers plus new born babies with only 2 midwives which, inevitably, compromises the standards of care that can be provided

• Loss of community midwifery services in Limerick city.

Mary Fogarty, INMO Industrial Relations Officer said: "Our midwife members are the clinical professionals at the frontline of maternity services on a 24/7 basis. They are extremely concerned at the standards of care currently available at the University Maternity Hospital, Limerick and feel they must highlight these concerns. Equally they are not satisfied that the HSE, while aware of the increased activity and complexity at the hospital, has made adequate efforts to support the midwifery service immediately through increased staffing levels in all areas."


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