Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (110)

Seán Fleming


110. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health if he intends to reconfigure maternity services nationwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14868/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy will be aware, in May of last year, I published the Report on the Establishment of Hospital Groups. The formation of acute hospitals into a small number of groups will provide the optimum configuration for hospital services to deliver high quality, safe patient care. Each group will have at least one major university teaching hospital, a cancer centre and a maternity service, and is required to develop a strategic plan within one year of establishment. These plans will describe how the Group will: (i) provide more efficient and effective patient services, including for maternity care; (ii) reorganise these services to provide optimal care to the populations they serve; and (iii) achieve maximum integration and synergy with other groups and all other health services.

In terms of the reorganisation of maternity services, the recently published Chief Medical Officer's report on Portlaoise Hospital Maternity Services is also of relevance. That Report recommended that the Portlaoise Maternity Service should become part of a managed clinical network under a singular governance model with the Coombe Women & Infant University Hospital. The Report also recommended that other small maternity services around the country should be incorporated into managed clinical networks within the relevant hospital group. I have accepted all of the Report's recommendations. The rollout of such managed clinical networks work will be undertaken in the context of the implementation of Hospital Groups.

The Deputy may also wish to note that my Department, in conjunction with the HSE, is preparing a National Maternity Strategy which will provide the strategic direction for the optimal development of safe and high quality maternity services. The Strategy will incorporate a review and evaluation of our services and therefore provide us with the opportunity to take stock of current services and identify how the quality and safety of care provided to women and their babies can be further improved.