Pregnant women in Ireland are being “completely ignored” by hospitals who are “simply doing whatever they want” despite repeat warnings from Government and the HSE.
Activist and campaigner Ailbhe Smyth has said Irish people should be ‘angry and concerned’ about the ongoing restrictions being enforced by Ireland’s maternity hospitals.
This afternoon, the HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry said he hoped all Ireland’s hospitals would be fully compliant with HSE guidelines on partners attending maternity units in the coming week.
That came well over a month after the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly told The Hard Shoulder that every hospital in Ireland would be following the same rules for partners “by the end of the day.”
In the same interview, he said new rules for emergency situations would be rolled out across the country in the coming weeks.
Just this morning meanwhile, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin told Newstalk Breakfast that it is "unacceptable at this stage" that there are still restrictions on partner visits at some maternity hospitals.
On The Hard Shoulder this evening, Ms Smyth said she was “absolutely baffled” by the situation.
“It is saying something very important about our whole hospital health system that you can have various political leaders from, as you say, the Taoiseach through the Tánaiste and the Minister for Health and so on and so forth, plus the HSE, actually saying one thing and hospitals deciding that they […] The hospitals are simply doing what they want,” she said.
She noted that NPHET confirmed as far back as May 10th that there was no public health need for the maternity hospital restrictions to remain in place and warned that even now, there are those claiming that the hospitals are fully compliant
“Yet we have women quite rightly saying, no they are not,” she said. “Why is nobody listening to the women who are actually giving birth to the babies? The women who are in and out and in and out of these hospitals and who are tearing their hair out?
“This is not the first time that women’s experience in healthcare and particularly in maternal healthcare, has just been completely ignored.”
Ms Smyth said the situation should raise real concerns about who controls Ireland’s hospitals.
“Why is it that our health service executive - our national health service - plus our Minister for Health, plus the Taoiseach plus the Tánaiste; that nobody can actually get the hospitals to come to heel.
“Who really is in charge of our health service? Is there any one body genuinely in charge of our hospitals?
“I think it should give all of us a lot to think about, the way in which our health service functions and operates.”
She said it is past time for people to be angry and concerned about the situation, noting that hundreds of women will pass through Ireland’s hospitals while we wait and see if Dr Henry’s prediction comes true.
She noted that the birthing process has changed hugely in recent years with health systems all over the world recognising the crucial supporting role played by partners.
“A partner in the contemporary world is crucially, centrally, absolutely involved, emotionally and psychologically in this process,” she said.
“We do have to recognise that giving birth has never been treated as so precious, important, wonderful and extraordinary and needing the very best care,” she said.
“Throughout our history, women have found ourselves maltreated ignored and dismissed and the interesting is that now women will not put up with that anymore.”
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