Opposition parties criticise under-funding of national maternity strategy

FF concerned over state of maternity services after ‘complete failure’ to implement strategy

Patient advocate Mark Molloy  said he felt ‘let down’ by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Patient advocate Mark Molloy said he felt ‘let down’ by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Opposition parties have criticised Government under-funding of the national maternity strategy, in the wake of the resignation of patient advocate Mark Molloy from the board of the Health Service Executive.

Mr Molloy resigned over the “tokenistic” treatment of patient representatives and the failure of the Government to provide promised funding for the strategy, The Irish Times reported on Monday.

Mr Molloy said he felt “let down” by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris over the under-funding of the strategy, whose funding was suppose to be ringfenced.

Prominent patient advocate Vicky Phelan said she was “so sorry” that Mr Molloy had resigned. She said it seemed to be “another example of patient advocates not being listened to”.

Big loss

Another cervical cancer campaigner, Stephen Teap, said Mr Molloy’s resignation was a “big loss” and pointed to the need for a properly structured campaign for patient representatives.

Fianna Fáil health spokesman Stephen Donnelly said he was “gravely concerned” about the state of the country’s maternity services following a “complete failure” by the Government to implement the strategy.

“Not a single extra cent was invested in maternity services in 2019. This is despite clear commitments in the strategy to recruit 500 additional midwives, standardise governance procedures and ensure a safe and quality standard of care for mothers and babies.

“It’s nearly four years now since the Taoiseach launched the strategy amid much fanfare. It has become apparent that this was more about the media opportunity and less about making a real difference to standards and outcomes in the country’s 19 maternity units.”

Resignation

In a statement, the HSE said Mr Molloy had confirmed his resignation to its chairman, Ciaran Devane, on January 7th. Mr Devane had thanked Mr Molloy for his “dedication, hard work and insightful input” on the board, according to a spokeswoman.

Mr Molloy told The Irish Times he felt he could no longer be part of board decisions that were serving to erode the integrity of the work he and his wife Róisín Molloy were doing on behalf of patients.

The Molloys’ son, also Mark, was one of a number of babies who died unnecessarily as a result of failings at Portlaoise hospital, and they have campaigned since for greater accountability and patient representation in the health service.