The Government has made women’s healthcare a “top, top priority,” Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has claimed.
Following the launch of the Women’s Health Action Plan on International Women’s Day, Minister Donnelly told The Hard Shoulder that the Government had funded a range of new services for women and was determined to add more in the future:
“We’re fully funding the national maternity strategy,” he said.
“Which essentially means more midwifery led care, more choice for women, investment in facilities.
“We’re doubling the number of lactation consultants. We’re putting in place perinatal mental health right across the country which is really important - the initial results are fantastic.
“We’re introducing free contraception - we’re starting with women aged 17-25. What I’d like to do is, in the coming years, is expand that to everybody.”
Listen and subscribe to The Hard Shoulder on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify.
“By the end of the year, we will have opened a national network of 20 ‘see and treat’ gynaecology clinics. These are having a huge impact.
“So up until now, a woman might be referred from her GP to a specialist, then for diagnostics, then has to go back to the specialist and then be referred for a procedure.
“It could be four trips and it might take somewhere between nine months and two years. It’s now being done in a matter of hours in one location on the one day.”
The overall plan will cost the state €31 million in additional funding. However, there is one aspect of healthcare which was not addressed but which Minister Donnelly said he hoped to at some point in the future - assisted reproductive healthcare. Currently, Ireland is one of the few European countries in which IVF is not provided for free to LGBT people, single women and infertile couples:
“One of the things I’d like to do in future plans is, for example, is look at funding rounds of IVF for women, for couples,” Minister Donnelly ventured.
“It’s something we don’t have here in Ireland. It’s something I think we need. We’re bringing the assisted human reproduction bill into the Dáil in the next two or three weeks and that gives us the legislative basis to do this.”
Main image: The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly at Government Buildings. Picture by: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews