Hospitals Facing Maternity Crisis Over Lack Of Staff

Hospital maternity units are facing a crisis due to the baby boom and lack of staffing, doctors have warned. Traditional standards of maternity care are under threat because of failure to plan for the birth rise, doctors have said.

Dr John Bermingham, an obstetrician at Waterford Regional Hospital, said there are some instances where women in labour may have to be left on their own because of a shortage of midwives.

“By and large we try and not leave anyone on their own but in this day and age it is becoming increasingly difficult. If she is unfortunate enough not to have a partner or friend with her it can at times happen that she is left on their own.”

Dr Bermingham was speaking at the annual meeting of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) in Dublin where specialists supported a motion calling on the Department of Health and HSE to increase the capacity of maternity hospitals and units to cater for the birth increase forecast by the Central Statistics Office.

He said there is a “crisis in obstetrics” and inadequate staffing levels are leaving midwives facing high levels of stress and burnout.

“The numbers of people walking out the door is unprecedented.

“There has been a failure to expand bed capacity to allow doctors and nurses to provide the level of care a mother and newborn baby require.”

Condemning the lack of planning as an “abject failure” he said while there have been calls for more community based midwives it is first necessary to “get it right in the hospitals”.

He added: “You cannot provide community support for these people unless they are going out properly looked after.

“Look at post natal experience — women say it is difficult to be seen by midwives. They understand there may be just just two midwives on a ward, working at full tilt and hardly getting their breaks,” he said.