I welcome the completion of Professor Walker's Report and would again like to convey my sympathies to the families involved in this process.
I am advised that Portiuncula University Hospital and Saolta University Health Care Group have reviewed the findings and recommendations in Professor Walker's Report and an Implementation Team is already in place to progress the recommendations.
I particularly welcome the fact that the team includes input from some of the families affected. I am also assured that a significant number of actions are already underway which will advance the implementation of those recommendations.
We have made a lot of progress as a country in relation to our maternity services and taken important steps forward in the past few years:
- In 2016 we published Ireland’s first National Maternity Strategy.
- In January 2017, the National Women and Infants Health Programme was established to lead the management, organisation and delivery of maternity, gynaecology and neonatal services.
- Development funding of €4.15 million has been provided to progress the Maternity Strategy Implementation Plan - priorities for this year include improving quality and safety, developing community midwifery teams and increasing access to anomaly scans.
- To support and strengthen smaller maternity units around the country Maternity Networks are being established across hospital groups - this will improve governance and oversight and facilitate the sharing of expertise within and between networks.
- All 19 maternity hospitals/units are now publishing Maternity Patient Safety Statements on a monthly basis.
I am confident that we are moving in the right direction and translating plans into action for the 80,000 families who access maternity care each year.