Wednesday, 30 June 2021
Department of Health
266. To ask the Minister for Health if he will make public the briefing report he received from senior HSE officials regarding partners accompanying expectant mothers to appointments in maternity hospitals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28076/21]
Maternity services are a core, essential service and must be able to continue to provide 24/7 care during the pandemic. In order to protect women, babies, staff and our maternity service as a whole, it has been necessary to introduce restrictions on attendance at maternity services. This has unfortunately included limitations on access of partners to maternity wards, theatres and appointments. My Department and the HSE have been engaging closely in relation to this matter.
The HSE has advised that in mid-May a review of compliance was conducted in all maternity hospitals/units, based on the HSE-AMRIC national guidance in place. At that time, the HSE confirmed that 14 of the 19 maternity hospitals/units were fully compliant with the guidance. As of last week, the HSE has advised that all 19 maternity hospitals are now fully compliant with that national guidance.
However, it should be noted that this guidance was limited to planned attendances. Accordingly, the HSE's National Women and Infants Health Programme has advised that additional guidance was issued on 23 June to maternity hospitals. This guidance now addresses unplanned attendance, including at the Early Pregnancy Assessment Units, or emergency presentations in late pregnancy. The guidance also addresses attendance for women with at-risk pregnancies. I am advised that the HSE anticipates that a two-week period may be required to ensure all hospitals are able to address local logistical issues that might arise in implementing this additional guidance.