Fianna Fáil has raised concerns that the Government plans to dismantle obstetrician-led maternity services in the West/North West region after the upcoming elections.

The party’s Seanad Spokesperson on Health, Senator Marc Mac Sharry, has seen a copy of a HSE confidential report on the future of maternity services in the West/North West region.  He said it confirms that the HSE is strongly considering dramatically downgrading maternity services at three hospitals:  Sligo General, Mayo General and Portiuncula. 

Sligo General Hospital provides a number of maternity services for mothers in South Donegal.  

Senator Mac Sharry explained, “This confirms that the fears I first raised in February were justified.  At the time, the HSE denied that this report existed and subsequently had to withdraw that claim. It clearly shows that serious consideration is being given to downgrading maternity services in Sligo, Mayo and Portiuncula and moving expectant mothers to University Hospital Galway and Letterkenny Hospital.

“There are reports that plans are already underway to shut down the maternity unit at Portiuncula as soon as the local and European elections are over, and transfer patients to UHG. For the Government to keep this major change to our local health services a secret until after polling day is deeply cynical and deeply unfair to expectant mothers who are due their babies at Portiuncula very soon.

“If these plans go ahead, it would amount to a major downgrading of obstetrician-led maternity services in this region.  With a catchment of more than 260,000 people, Sligo General Hospital alone provides maternity services to a vast geographical area including Sligo, Leitrim, West Cavan, South Donegal and North Roscommon.  It is completely unacceptable to consider shutting down the maternity unit and forcing expectant mothers to travel hours to Letterkenny or Galway city to see an obstetrician.

“At a time when we’ve seen a number of tragedies in maternity services and questions over the quality of care at certain centres in the country, I fully support the need for investment in maternity and neo natal services across the country.  This must be with a view to providing accessible and high quality care to all mothers and babies, regardless of where they live.  Ireland has the lowest number of obstetricians per patients in the OECD.  The Government must focus on attracting the necessary number of qualified consultant obstetricians, rather than taking the easy route of just shutting down maternity units outside the major urban centres”

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Now editorial team. Between 9am and 5pm Monday to Sunday please call 074 9112712. Between 5pm and midnight please call or text 086 792 2103. Or you can email [email protected] at any time.