By Michelle Devane, PA
The Health Minister has said he is “frustrated” by the lack of progress being made by some maternity hospitals to ease Covid-19 restrictions for partners of pregnant women.
Stephen Donnelly said all maternity units in the country have been contacted to inform them that they should lift restrictions for partners.
He added that any maternity unit that does not feel it is appropriate to allow partners to attend must outline the reasons why to the HSE.
Earlier this week the chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, said there is “no good reason in public health terms” for restrictions to remain in place for partners.
Despite a HSE circular calling on hospitals to facilitate partners to attend visits, in many instances restrictions are being kept in place at local level.
On Tuesday a series of protests took place outside maternity hospitals across the country demanding partners to be allowed to join mothers at scans, appointments and during labour.
Speaking in Dublin on Wednesday, Mr Donnelly said: “I am getting quite frustrated with the lack of progress, and I know the HSE is as well. Paul Reid and I spoke this morning.
“All 19 maternity units are being contacted right now and they are being told very clearly what the guidance is from the chief medical officer, which is that at the minimum there’s access for the 20-week scan, for the birth and the neonatal,” he said.
“Any maternity units that do not believe that is appropriate or safe at the moment must provide a case back.
“That information is being compiled as we speak, and I’ll have a report on it from the HSE later today.”
The Taoiseach also reiterated on Wednesday that there was no public health reason for partners not to be allowed to attend appointments.
Micheal Martin told the Dail partners should be accommodated.
“I believe 100 per cent that this should be facilitated,” he said.
“I will engage with the HSE again. Both the CEO (of the HSE) and the chief medical officer has made it clear there is no public health basis for any restrictions now on visits by partners.”
Mr Martin made the comments in response to Sinn Fein TD Donnchadh O Laoghaire who said he is one of the partners affected by the current restrictions.
Mr O Laoghaire said: “I was one of those partners that I have to say was deeply disappointed.
“I was looking forward to attending a 34-week growth scan, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to be possible at this point.
“The chief medical officer, you yourself Taoiseach, the World Health Organisation say that partners should not be treated as visitors but as essential support to pregnant women.”