I would like to assure the Deputy that I fully appreciate how restrictions across the health system are impacting service users and I acknowledge that restrictions in maternity hospitals have been particularly difficult for expectant mothers and partners. However, it is important to recognise that the challenges our maternity hospitals face vary considerably between hospitals and that significant variations in case load, complexity and infrastructure exist throughout the system. In that regard local flexibility is required to account for the different circumstances that may arise in different maternity units and decisions on restrictions are therefore made, implemented, and reviewed at hospital level.
The National Women’s & Infants Health Programme has advised that as the situation regarding community transmission continues to improve, and as the immunisation of frontline workers begins to take effect, the Programme is engaging with the clinical leads in each maternity network to support the phased relaxation of restrictions and provide advice on any areas of particular challenge.
In that context I have asked the National Women’s and Infants Health Programme, HSE to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.