Women-centred maternity care

 

A chara, – We have become sadly accustomed to Dr Jacky Jones’s opinion pieces, many of which appear to have the singular aim of demonising maternity services. However, we seriously question the wisdom of the editorial decision to print the highly inflammatory, sensationalist and misleading headline accompanying this week’s piece (“Ireland’s maternity services: an ongoing horror story”, December 13th), which adds little to the otherwise welcome debate on how we can continue to improve women-centred maternity care in modern Ireland.

Judge Harding Clarke’s 273-page report on the surgical symphysiotomy ex gratia payment scheme report is detailed, comprehensive and makes for sobering reading. However, to conflate the findings of this report with the numerous and very real challenges currently facing Irish mothers and their care givers is dangerous and distracts from the key issues within Irish maternity services in 2016.

Ireland has the lowest number of consultant obstetrician and gynaecologists per capita in the OECD (just 6 per 100,000 women compared with an average of 24 per 100,000 women) yet despite this, the clinical outcomes for Irish mothers and babies are comparable with the best.

Dedicated consultants, specialists-in-training, midwives and allied staff combat poor infrastructure, a hostile media and a litigious culture every day and every night to ensure that our maternity hospitals remain open, safe and women-centred environments for antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal care.

However, almost a year after the launch of the national maternity strategy, there has been no progress on the modest aims outlined in this report.

The failure to invest in maternity services, coupled with the repeated and ill-founded slurs made on our profession in this newspaper and elsewhere, make it increasingly difficult for us, as senior clinicians and trainers of the next generation, to provide high-quality care in what your columnist appears not to understand is now a largely female-led and female-delivered specialty.

Repeated and unfounded attacks on us and our midwifery colleagues will do little to attract tomorrow’s doctors and midwives to this wonderful specialty, and our daughters will be the worse for it.

We are committed to delivering high-quality maternity care to all women of Ireland and work tirelessly with our midwifery colleagues and other healthcare professionals to constantly review and improve the care we provide.

We are passionate about what we do, and many of us could work in any country but choose to work in Ireland. We would like the women of Ireland to know that their care is our utmost priority. – Yours, etc,

Prof LOUISE KENNY,

Dr KEELIN O’DONOGHUE,

Dr MOYA McMENAMIN,

Dr MAIREAD O’RIORDAN,

Dr SUZANNE O’SULLIVAN,

Dr NOIRIN RUSSELL,

Cork University Maternity Hospital;

Dr CATHY ALLEN,

Dr VENITA BRODERICK,

Prof MARY HIGGINS,

Prof FIONNUALA McAULIFFE,

National Maternity Hospital, Dublin;

Dr CAROL BARRY,

Prof FIONNUALA BREATHNACH,

Dr NAOMI BURKE,

Dr SHARON COOLEY,

Dr JENNIFER DONNELLY,

Dr MAEVE EOGAN,

Dr KAREN FLOOD,

Dr MARY HOLOHAN,

Dr ETAOIN KENT,

Rotunda Hospital, Dublin;

Dr AISLING MARTIN,

Dr NIAMH MAHER,

Dr AOIFE MULALLY,

Dr CLIONA MURPHY,

Prof DEIRDRE MURPHY,

Dr SHARON SHEEHAN,

Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Dublin;

Dr MARIE CHRISTINE de TAVERNIER,

Portiuncla University Hospital, Ballinasloe.