01 Oct 2022

Women and children's health programme continues to make 'significant progress' - Donnelly

Women and children's health programme continues to make 'significant progress' - Donnelly

An annual report on the state of women and children's health services in Ireland has been published. 

The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, announced the news on Tuesday July 5 and called work done by the National Women and Infants Health Programme "very important". 

The programme was established to lead the organisation and delivery of maternity, gynaecology and neonatal services and acts as a central authority on maternity care and as a resource for women's health issues within the HSE. 

According to the minister, the effect of the programme's work is reflected in today's report. 

He said, "The National Women’s and Infants Health Programme has undertaken very important work in the development of women’s health services since its establishment in 2017, particularly in maternity services, but also in the areas of gynaecology, fertility and sexual assault treatment services. [sic] We can clearly see the benefits for the women and families accessing health services. 

"Promoting Women’s Health is a priority for me and the government. The investment and developments we are seeing in women’s health demonstrate that this area is now receiving the focus and support it needs to provide timely and effective services to the women of Ireland." 

He continued: "Women have more choice when it comes to maternity care in 2021, with 24% of pregnant women booked on the Supported Care Pathway. More women could also access more services closer to home, with additional community midwifery services and Early Transfer Home services becoming available. 

"We also saw brand new services coming online, with additional ambulatory gynaecology clinics, as well as the establishment of specialised endometrial and menopause clinics in Tallaght and the NMH." 

According to Minister Donnelly, the programme continued to make "significant progress" in 2021. 

He said, "[It] was a challenging year for the HSE, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the cyber-attack on HSE systems, but this Report shows that the Programme continued to make significant progress in 2021. 

"In Budget 2022, I secured additional funding of almost €9 million for the implementation of the National Maternity Strategy. This will ensure the continued implementation of the Strategy into 2022 and beyond, in line with the revised Implementation Plan. 

"As Minister, I have made it clear that I am determined to improve access, affordability and quality of women’s health services and as part of that, I want to ensure the ongoing development of safe, trusted, standardised, maternity care which supports better outcomes for women." 

The Director of the National Women and Infants Health Programme, Mr Kilian McGrane, also welcomed publication of the report and said, "Despite the major challenges of 2021, our maternity services performed very well and continued to keep women, babies, and staff safe, while delivering quality care in very challenging circumstances. Despite these challenges, 2021 saw a number of important milestones achieved, which we plan to build upon. 

"In 2021, we saw a significant increase in funding for women's health, and that is reflected in the Annual Report with further progress in implementing the National Maternity Strategy and a major increase in the number of ambulatory gynaecology centres.

"This investment, which was matched with further investment in 2022, has greatly enhanced the care provided to women across our 19 maternity services." 

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