THE Government is at risk of failing its own recently developed National Maternity strategy if the necessary funding is not made available soon for a new maternity hospital in Limerick.
That’s the view of Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea who was reacting to media reports of serious challenges facing University Maternity Hospital Limerick (UMHL) and Ireland’s other maternity hospitals because of greater numbers of births requiring surgical procedures, and the overall increase in the number of women having babies.
“The current maternity hospital in Limerick was built more than 50 years ago and was designed to cater for 3,000 births a year. In recent times it has been dealing with up to 5,500 births a year, and is currently the fifth largest maternity unit in the country,” he told the Limerick Post.
“Last year it was announced that a new purpose built ‘state-of-the-art’ maternity hospital had been approved for construction on the main campus of University Hospital Limerick (UHL) in Dooradoyle.
“However, when he was when questioned about the matter during his recent visit to Limerick, Health Minister Simon Harris would only say that no announcement on capital funding for the new maternity hospital would be made until some time next year.”
Deputy O’Dea is now calling on Minister Harris to reveal whether he has the required capital funding to deliver the new maternity hospital and when he believes it will come on stream.
“The National Maternity Strategy, which was only published last January, was presented as a framework to provide appropriate maternal healthcare services across the State. As a strategy, it makes sense, but without the funding, it will end up as a document gathering dust on a shelf.
“Maternity services will always be needed, and, as the average age for a woman to become pregnant rises, more and more medical and surgical procedures will be required.
“The Minister must start to plan now for Ireland’s future maternal healthcare needs. It is vital that a new maternity hospital is built in Limerick in the very near future and the Minister needs to act quickly to make sure that this happens,” Deputy O’Dea concluded.
by Alan Jacques