INMO Calls for Planned and Resourced Implementation of The National Maternity Strategy 2016-2026
- Severe shortage of midwives barrier to implementation
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) met with the Joint Oireachtas Health Committee, this morning, to discuss the National Maternity Strategy 2016-2026 which was published one year ago.
During this meeting the INMO delegation, which involved Ms Mary Leahy, 1st vice President and Ms Mary Gorman, Midwife and member of the Organisation’s Executive Council, presented an opening statement which, while welcoming this Strategy, raised growing concerns with regard to the commitment to, and speed of, implementation. (Opening statement attached)
In the course of the meeting, and particularly the extensive question and answer session with committee members, the INMO stressed the following:
1. The implementation of the Strategy must be driven by a special taskforce. This taskforce will be required to issue an annual report clearly specifying what has happened, in that year, with regard to delivering upon the recommendations within the Strategy.
2. The recruitment and retention of midwives, to address the severe shortage which exists at this time, must be an absolute priority as part of the implementation process.
This will require a number of initiatives including:
- Incentivised recruitment and retention measures;
- Enhanced clinical supports to assist midwives ensure best practice and best outcomes for mothers and newborns; and,
- Clear respect to be shown to midwives when they exercise their professional judgement with regard to what is required to ensure safe practice and best outcomes.
3. Simplified governance structures, in all maternity units/hospitals, which give clear autonomy to the Director of Midwifery and Senior Obstetric colleague, supported by a General Manager, in relation to the management of all services (including budgets) in that unit/hospital.
In relation to recruitment and retention the INMO, in response to a question from the Committee, confirmed that, once safe staffing levels have been achieved (1 midwife to 29.5 births) through proactive strategies, these ratios should be maintained through legislation. The INMO, in drawing the Committee’s attention to the current staffing deficits (which involve a ratio of 1 midwife to 36 births), said that a minimum of 400 additional midwives were required for our maternity services.
The meeting this morning also involved representatives, Dr Peter Boylan and Professor Louise Kenny, from the Institute Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. The discussions demonstrated the commonality of view held by the INMO and Institute, in relation to implementing the Strategy and the reality that this will require significant, and sustained investment in both infrastructure, midwives and consultants.
Both the INMO and the Institute welcomed the Strategy and, in particular, the fact that it overtly places the woman at the centre of all activities supporting her pregnancy.
The INMO will now be seeking an early meeting, with the Department of Health, to discuss the implementation of this excellent Strategy.