The National Maternity Strategy - Creating A Better Future Together 2016 - 2026- aims to ensure that appropriate care pathways are in place in order that mothers, babies and families get the right care, at the right time, by the right team and in the right place. Similarly, it recognises that, while all pregnant women need a certain level of support, some will require more specialised care. Accordingly, it proposes an integrated model that delivers care at the lowest level of complexity and encompasses all the necessary safety nets in line with patient safety principles. The model consists of three care pathways - supported, assisted and specialised.
The Supported Care Pathway is intended for normal-risk mothers and babies, with midwives leading and delivering care within a multidisciplinary framework. Care will be delivered by the community midwifery team, with most antenatal and postnatal care being provided in the community and home settings. The woman can exercise a choice with her healthcare professional with regard to the birth setting, which may be in an Alongside Birth Centre in the hospital, or at home. The Strategy makes it clear that women should be offered choice regarding their preferred pathway of care, in line with their clinical needs and best practice.
The phased implementation of the Strategy will be led by the National Women & Infants Health Programme. To this end, the Programme has developed a detailed Implementation Plan which I was pleased to launch in October 2017. The Plan seeks to ensure that each Maternity Network/Hospital Group will have all three care pathways in place and operational in 2018. The Plan also provides that by early 2019, a minimum of 20% of pregnant women presenting at our maternity hospitals/units, including within the Saolta University Health Care Group, will have access to the supported care pathway.
I have asked the HSE to reply to you directly in response to your more detailed queries regarding implementation of the National Maternity Strategy and the National Standards for Safer Better Maternity Services within the Saolta University Health Care Group.