Savita death must mean better maternity staffing - INMO chief

INMO to devote all resources to ensuring ‘only positive things emerge from this tragedy’

If given a chance by policy makers, midwives could “lead on new models of care”, INMO president Claire Mahon  has said. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

If given a chance by policy makers, midwives could “lead on new models of care”, INMO president Claire Mahon has said. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Thu, Oct 17, 2013, 14:37

The death of Savita Halappanavar must result in better staffing of maternity units, the president of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said.

Addressing the INMO and Royal College of Midwives of Northern Ireland joint midwifery conference in Dublin this morning, INMO president Claire Mahon told delegates Ms Halappanavar’s death formed a backdrop to the conference.

Welcoming the national review of maternity services proposed in the recent Health Information Equality Authority (Hiqa) review into Ms Halappanavar’s death, Ms Mahon said the INMO would “devote all of the resources necessary to ensure that only positive things emerge from this tragedy”.

She said the three reports into Ms Halappanavar’s death “placed a very sharp light on staffing levels and standards of care in all maternity services”.

She said improved standards of care in all maternity units must involve adequate staffing levels, an appropriate skill mix and “absolute clarity that midwife managers have the authority and the autonomy to ensure adequate resources are always available to ensure and guarantee safe practice and safe care”.

If given a chance by policy makers, midwives could “lead on new models of care”, Ms Mahon said. She said this should begin with the establishment of new midwifery-led units for low-risk mothers without delay. She said the evidence from such units in Louth and Cavan proved the service was preferred by mothers and delivered high quality, cost-effective care.

Ms Mahon said the INMO was currently “actively supporting” members working in the maternity unit at University College Hospital, Galway where Ms Halappanavar died.

She said “much learning” had to be taken from her death. “Hopefully, out of this very dark situation, there will be a marked improvement in the level of resources available to all maternity services on the island of Ireland.”