Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Ceisteanna (76, 94, 97, 628, 687, 695, 771, 782, 853)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

76. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health his plans to re-evaluate and relax restrictions on pregnant parents being accompanied by their partners in hospitals before, during and after birth on compassionate grounds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23644/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Violet-Anne Wynne

Ceist:

94. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Health his plans to allow pregnant women to attend hospital appointments with their partners; his plans to allow restrictions on same to be lifted in hospitals (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23695/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Sorca Clarke

Ceist:

97. Deputy Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Health when the restrictions in maternity hospitals will be lifted to allow a doula and-or birthing partner to support a pregnant woman in labour and delivery. [23758/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

628. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health if he will request the HSE to remove the restrictions that deny fathers and partners the right to be present with a woman at her antenatal scans and appointments and to be able to provide support throughout the entirety of the labour and beyond one hour after the birth of the baby for the duration of the hospital stay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23282/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerald Nash

Ceist:

687. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Minister for Health if he will provide the policy and public health rationale that warrants the continued exclusion of partners from supporting expectant mothers through labour and the post-birth period in maternity hospitals; if he plans to review this policy in view of the evidence that supports the presence of partners during this process from an emotional and psychological point of view; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23463/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

695. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health his plans to review the restrictions on partners attending maternity and labour wards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23504/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Rose Conway-Walsh

Ceist:

771. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Health his plans to assess the current restrictions on partners being present during the entirety of childbirth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23886/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Cathal Crowe

Ceist:

782. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Health his plans to lessen the restrictions in maternity hospitals on persons who can be in the birthing room during labour in view of restrictions in other parts of society easing significantly. [23954/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

853. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Health when restrictions will be eased at maternity hospitals to allow the birth partners of expectant mothers to attend antenatal appointments and early labour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24139/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 76, 94, 97, 628, 687, 695, 771, 782 and 853 together.

I acknowledge that the current restrictions in maternity hospitals are presenting difficulties and this is hugely regrettable. However, it is necessary to reduce footfall in order to protect women, babies, staff and our maternity service as a whole.

Maternity hospitals have performed well during the pandemic and have continued to keep women, babies and staff safe. The fact that there have been no Covid maternal deaths in this country,and that we have a had a low incidence in pregnant women, suggests that the current approach is working.

However, we must remain vigilant as services resume and higher numbers of people attend hospitals. Maternity hospitals rely on very specialised personnel; should an outbreak of COVID-19 occur in a maternity hospital, the ability to provide safe, quality care would be severely impacted. It should be remembered that maternity hospitals care for fragile infants at the extremes of prematurity.

All maternity hospitals are challenged by the pandemic, but those challenges vary considerably. Decisions on any restrictions are therefore made, implemented and reviewed at hospital level.

Decisions to restrict visitors in our maternity hospitals have not been taken lightly. Management and staff are acutely aware of the very important support provided by partners at the time of birth. I have been assured that maternity hospitals wish to facilitate this support as far as possible. In that context, I can assure the Deputy that any restrictions currently in place have been minimised as much as possible and will be subject to ongoing review.