Community-based midwives’ views need to be taken on board by HSE
The Minister for Health must urgently intervene to ensure continued access to home birth services for women living in rural communities, according to Holly Cairns TD.
Deputy Cairns, who represents Cork South-West, said:
“A recommendation by the HSE to exclude large swathes of my constituency from access to community-based midwife care would effectively mean that having a home birth will not be an option for most of West Cork, with some rural parts of Kerry, Clare, Galway, Mayo and Donegal also losing out.
“The HSE’s analysis is based on the distance between a family home and the nearest acute maternity hospital. If accepted, it would represent a blatant failure of the Government’s commitment to a woman-centred approach, as set out in the National Maternity Strategy.
“This recommendation, which is not evidence-based, seems to be a case of the HSE making decisions for women while ignoring the views of midwives. If home birth options are taken away, women living in rural areas will only have limited alternatives.
“It’s also worth noting that Cork and Kerry make up over 45 percent of home births nationally – a figure that has been consistent for many years.
“West Cork in particular needs funding for its own specific midwife-led strategy. It is completely unacceptable there is no maternity or midwife clinic west of Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH).
“The reality is that home birth midwives are the only ones providing this service to rural-based mothers in Cork and Kerry at present.
“As we saw during the pandemic – when maternity restrictions were kept for so much longer than was necessary – women’s healthcare is nowhere near the priority it should be for this Government. I have raised this issue with the Minister but have no confidence that he will stand up for women in rural communities by giving them a choice when it comes to childbirth.”
September 15, 2022