Wednesday, 27 June 2007
Department of Health and Children
Question 79: To ask the Minister for Health and Children if her Department has guidelines or standards on the required staffing complements of midwives and nurses for maternity hospitals; and if not, her views on whether the service is adequately staffed in this regard. [17478/07]
My Department has not issued guidelines on the nursing and midwifery complements for maternity hospitals. Subject to overall parameters set by Government the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In this regard, it is a matter for the HSE to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public.
The HSE has recently commissioned a comprehensive review of maternity and gynaecology services in the Greater Dublin Area. This review will include an evaluation of current capacity, usage and deployment of consultants, midwives, beds, neonatal care, theatres, outreach clinics, home care, emergency facilities, diagnostics, gynaecology and other services provided. An independent report will be produced which will make recommendations on the optimal configuration of primary, community and hospital services for safe, sustainable, cost effective and high quality maternity services.
The Government has invested heavily in the education and training of these professions to provide for the healthcare needs of the population. I provided funding for a new direct entry midwifery degree programme which commenced in six higher education institutes in autumn 2006. This programme will reduce the time it currently takes to train midwives. There are 140 places available on this programme each year. The post registration midwifery programmes are also continuing. The current two year post registration midwifery programme is to be replaced by an 18 month programme in autumn 2007 which should make it more attractive to potential candidates. There will be 154 places available on this programme nationally. The combination of the direct entry and post registration programmes will increase the supply of midwives in response to existing and anticipated future workforce needs within a changing health service.