Midwife-led unit at Cavan General Hospital must not be threatened - INMO

Leitrim Observer reporter

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Cavan General Hospital

Cavan General Hospital

Cavan General Hospitals’ midwife-led unit – one of only two in Ireland - must not be downgraded, the INMO has said.

The INMO had previously been assured by RCSI hospital group management that full consultation would take place before any decisions on the future of the service were made.

Despite this, it now appears that plans to downgrade the service are advancing.

At an INMO midwifery section meeting today (Saturday), midwives called on government to intervene to ensure the promotion of midwife-led units as set out in the National Maternity Strategy, and preserve the status of the unit in Cavan.

All local public representatives are being contacted by the INMO and asked to oppose this decision, as it removes a service to women of the region.

The midwife-led unit is one of only two in the country and is made up of a team of midwives who provide care for women throughout their pregnancy, during labour and in the postnatal period.

The INMO had earlier this year called for the long-delayed implementation of the National Maternity Strategy which recommends the expansion of midwife-led units.

The two midwife-led units in Cavan and Drogheda were introduced in 2004 when a controlled trial (the MidU study) found that midwife-led care:

•                    was at least as safe as consultant-led care,

•                    required less medical intervention,

•                    had higher satisfaction rates from women,

•                    was more cost-effective.

A further retrospective cohort study conducted in 2017 showed that midwife-led care is a safe option that could be offered to a large proportion of healthy pregnant women.

David Miskell, Industrial Relations Officer with the INMO for Cavan General Hospital said: “There is a very clear strategy for the maternity service, but the HSE hasn’t properly implemented it.

“The expansion of midwife-led care is an integral part of the National Maternity Strategy. Downgrading the service would fly in the face of national policy.

“Any diminution in the service provided at Cavan General Hospital is a retrograde step for the provision of maternity services in the North East and is limiting choices for expectant mothers.

“We need clarity and a rethink from the HSE and government.”