The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO ) released a new report yesterday (Thursday ) stating that Mayo General Hospital needs five additional midwives to bring it in line with international maternity unit staffing standards.
The national survey of 19 hospitals found Mayo General was one of the best staffed and had the second lowest ratio of births to midwives in the country. However, the INMO said this was not good news, and the hospital was instead “the best of a bad lot” in terms of midwifery staffing levels.
He said all 19 hospitals surveyed were below best international standards for midwifery staffing.
The INMO report found there was one midwife to 32 births at Mayo General Hospital but the recommended international midwife to births ratio is 1:29.5.
David Hughes, deputy general secretary of the INMO, said Mayo General is “not quite as bad as some of the others, which are absolutely shocking.”
He pointed to Portlaoise Hospital, where there is an average of 55 births to a midwife, and University Hospital Galway, where there are 41 births to a midwife.
The INMO said it applied the internationally recommended midwife to birth ratio known as Birthrate Plus.
“Having a baby is a positive thing and in the vast majority of cases mother and child come through safely,” said Mr Hughes. “Midwifery is about making that experience as positive as possible. But if staffing levels are below the international standard, it reduces the level of care and attention to both mother and baby. Midwives come under pressure and the level of care diminishes.”
Nationally, maternity services need some 554 midwives to reach the recommended staffing level for safe and better care.
“The staffing situation has been greatly exacerbated over the past five years arising from the loss of 5,200 nursing/midwifery posts as a result of the ban on recruitment,” states the report.
The INMO will meet with the Department of Health later this month and will request the immediate lifting of the recruitment moratorium to deal with what it has labelled a “critical shortage of midwives” in Irish maternity units.