Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Ceisteanna (764, 792, 795, 800, 811, 812, 824, 831, 856, 865, 888, 911, 925, 964)

Réada Cronin

Ceist:

764. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Health his plans to facilitate partners of pregnant women accompanying them to their maternity hospital appointments; the date on which these accompaniments will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26293/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

792. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health if changes will be made to allow for partners to be present during childbirth [26414/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Francis Noel Duffy

Ceist:

795. Deputy Francis Noel Duffy asked the Minister for Health if he in conjunction with the HSE and NPHET will consider easing maternity service restrictions across maternity hospitals; if birthing partners will be allowed to be present at all pregnancy-related appointments, scans, labour and births; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26428/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Emer Higgins

Ceist:

800. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Health the status of guidelines for maternity and prenatal care in Dublin hospitals within Level 3 restrictions; his views on the need to support women and their partners through their care [26434/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Marian Harkin

Ceist:

811. Deputy Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Health his plans to ease the restrictions in terms of antenatal and maternity care in the context of allowing partners to attend scans and also attend the birth of their children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26453/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Lahart

Ceist:

812. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Health the reason for the decision to prevent partners from attending labour, birth, scans or appointments that are pregnancy related; if the decision will be reviewed in view of the isolation for expectant mothers and their partners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26459/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

824. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health if the current Covid-19 restrictions in maternity services will be reviewed to enable partners of pregnant women to attend appointments and births; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26508/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Emer Higgins

Ceist:

831. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Health his plans to allow mothers to be accompanied by their partners in maternity wards and during prenatal care; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26573/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

856. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Health if the current Covid-19 restrictions in maternity services will be removed to allow partners and birth partners of pregnant women to be present for prenatal scans, appointments, labour and at childbirth [26648/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

865. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health when fathers will be allowed to attend prenatal appointments and births of their children; if this is a Departmental directive; if it is a decision by each health group; the rationale for this decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26703/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Patrick Costello

Ceist:

888. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Health if each maternity hospital has a birthing pool; and if not, the estimated cost of ensuring each maternity hospital has a birthing pool. [26848/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

911. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health his views on a matter raised by a person (details supplied) regarding restrictions imposed on attending maternity appointments at University Hospital Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26945/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Cormac Devlin

Ceist:

925. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health if he has received an update from maternity hospitals on when they will lift restrictions on partners attending antenatal scans, appointments, labour and the hour post birth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26995/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

964. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Health the engagement he has had personally on the lifting of restrictions in maternity hospitals for partners of new mothers [27193/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 764, 792, 795, 800, 811, 812, 824, 831, 856, 865, 888, 911, 925 and 964 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.

I note that restrictions have eased somewhat in certain hospitals in recent weeks and I hope this will continue. However, the recent rise in the numbers of people infected with the virus, including healthcare workers, is very worrying and may impact on the pace of the easing of restrictions.

The Deputy may wish to note that the National Women & Infants Health Programme has developed a guidance document on restrictions in maternity hospitals/units and this issued to all maternity services last week. The paper seeks to ensure a consistent national approach to visitor restrictions, as far as is practicable and having due regard to local circumstances. Each maternity service/network has been requested to review visiting arrangements on a weekly basis, in the context of the issues and factors identified in the paper.