A CORK TD has called for the Minister for Health to intervene on the matter of maternity restrictions, stating that many expectant parents feel “cheated” following Thursday’s announcement.
On Wednesday, it was reported that the easing of maternity restrictions was expected to be mentioned within the Taoiseach’s address to the nation.
Following Thursday’s announcement, however, Cork mother and campaigner Linda Kelly said that she felt “let down”.
“We were expecting absolutely that they were going to look at things like the 12-week scan, antenatal appointments and looking at the full labour including induction and post-natal visits.”
“[There was] no consideration of women in the announcement and we need to do better,” she added.
Ms Kelly said she does not understand why “healthcare services aren’t being prioritised over other leisure activities”.
“There’s a difference between something that is an optional extra in your life and something that is a core planned health service in what is a hugely transformative experience for a family.”
Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns said that she was disappointed at the failure of the Taoiseach to acknowledge the easing of maternity hospital restrictions.
While the phased easing of restrictions announced will bring a sense of cautious optimism to struggling businesses and the hospitality sector, “it is unfortunate that, yet again, the Taoiseach has failed to acknowledge the stress and anxiety endured by prospective parents over the past year,” she said.
Following Thursday’s announcement, Donnchadh O’ Laoghaire TD said that “one group of people who feel desperately disappointed, and cheated, is pregnant women and their partners”.
“All pregnant women deserve to be properly supported throughout the duration of their pregnancy, as is their right.”
At Thursday’s HSE press briefing Dr Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer, HSE said that their advice with maternity hospitals is there should be a partner present at the 20-week anomaly scan, during labour and “of course, the parents should be able to visit in circumstances where a newly born child is in the neonatal intensive care unit of course parents should be able to visit”.
“But what's happened has been that during areas of local outbreaks, local interpretation, local public health assessment, there's been a halt [..]of that plan. But certainly, we’re clear now that guideline we have, we want to implement it across all 19 maternity units,” he said.
Dr Henry said that there was some variation, though this was “not surprising” given the fact that there have been outbreaks of varied levels in different settings.
“But now, as we see safer healthcare settings, reduced number of outbreaks in hospital setting especially in healthcare workers, we want to see a more even approach to that policy being implemented.”
However, he said that “there can't be any let up on the infection prevention and control measures.
“That’s really important. So, anybody visiting hospital and anybody, and including our own workers elsewhere, the threat remains. We can't drop our guard on those important infection prevention and control measures which are the first sign of defence.”