Women in rural areas deserve certainty about their maternity services

The HSE’s suspension of its plans to cancel home births in Cork and Kerry is a good first step – but the misguided plans should be permanently abandoned, according to Social Democrats Cork South West TD Holly Cairns.

“In August we learned that the HSE proposed to remove the right to have a home birth from women who live more than 30 minutes travel time from a maternity hospital. This would have had far-reaching consequences for families in rural areas, who would have been denied access to these maternity services.

“The proposal caused widespread shock and was greeted by protests from both women and midwives alike. Finally, after nearly four months of uncertainty, the HSE has now suspended its plans to cut maternity services to women in Cork and Kerry.

“While this is a welcome first step it does not go far enough. The HSE has confirmed that its plans to cut services in Cork and Kerry have now been suspended, but it remains unclear if cuts will proceed elsewhere in the country.

“It is also not good enough for these plans to be temporarily paused – they must be permanently abandoned. Women and families in rural areas deserve certainty about their maternity services.

“As it stands, there is no evidence base underpinning the HSE’s attempt to reduce maternity services to women in rural Ireland. Instead of cutting maternity services to women, the HSE should be focused on expanding and improving them.

“Home births are safe and should be available to women who wish to choose this option – whether they live in urban or rural areas.”

8 December, 2022


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