The Irish Nurses' and Midwives' Organisation has called for a special taskforce to be set up as part of the National Maternity Strategy 2016-2026.

INMO representatives met with the Joint Oireachtas Health Committee today, Thursday.

Two obstetricians claimed at the meeting that pregnant women all over Ireland are at risk due to a lack of availability for ultrasound scans and called for the recruitment of 100 midwives.

The INMO's delegation, its first vice-president Mary Leahy and midwife Mary Gorman of the INMO's executive Council raised concerns about the implementation of the strategy.

A spokesman for the INMO said afterwards: "The implementation of the strategy must be driven by a special taskforce.

"This taskforce will be required to issue an annual report clearly specifying what has happened, in that year, with regard to delivering upon the recommendations within the strategy.

"The recruitment and retention of midwives, to address the severe shortage which exists at this time, must be an absolute priority as part of the implementation process.

"This will require a number of initiatives including:

*Incentivised recruitment and retention measures;

*Enhanced clinical supports to assist midwives ensure best practice and best outcomes for mothers and newborns;

*Clear respect to be shown to midwives when they exercise their professional judgement with regard to what is required to ensure safe practice and best outcomes;

*Simplified governance structures, in all maternity units/hospitals, which give clear autonomy to the Director of Midwifery and Senior Obstetric colleague, supported by a General Manager, in relation to the management of all services (including budgets) in that unit/hospital.

"The INMO will now be seeking an early meeting, with the Department of Health, to discuss the implementation of this excellent strategy."

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