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 Header Item Independent Clinical Review of Maternity Services at Portiuncula University Hospital: Statements (Resumed) (Continued)
 Header Item Credit Union Restructuring Board (Dissolution) Bill 2019: Second Stage (Resumed)

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 8

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice: Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice] On the other hand, two of my three children were born there and, thankfully, everything worked out very well.

The report outlined different actions which needed to be taken. My understanding is that many of those actions have been taken. I am aware that there is now joined-up thinking, which was not the case previously, and that Portiuncula is working in conjunction with the hospital in Galway, which is needed.

My sister-in-law had a child in Ballinsaloe at Christmas and the staff were excellent. There were a few complications and the child was brought to Crumlin straight away in order to ensure that everything was okay. We have to be mindful of the staff who work in Portiuncula because a shortage of personnel was highlighted for years and nothing was done. We need to compliment the staff who there on the work they are doing.

We must also be mindful of the needs of people in Roscommon and east Galway. Parts of Roscommon are 60, 70 or 80 miles from Galway hospital. Portiuncula Hospital is vital for maternity services and all the services available there, including accident and emergency. We need to ensure that resources are put into Portiuncula Hospital, that the staffing levels are correct and that the necessary infrastructure is put in place. There is supposed to be a building project in respect of the accident and emergency department. I hope that will not be left hanging for a while because of the debacle relating to the national children's hospital.

Things like this sometimes give a Government an excuse to state that it will move the hospital somewhere else. Figures were put out about the babies who were born in Portiuncula Hospital as against Galway hospital and suggestions were made that Galway hospital has better services. We need to ensure that those services are in Portiuncula Hospital and it is kept going because it is vital. I compliment the staff who work there, especially the nurses and midwives.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Deputy Michael D'Arcy): Information on Michael  D'Arcy Zoom on Michael  D'Arcy I thank the Deputies for their contributions. Following on from what the Minister, Deputy Harris, stated when opening the debate on this matter last June, I wish to express my heartfelt sympathies to the families involved and commend them on their engagement in the review process. It is vitally important, not least for those families, that the systems learn from these events and ensure that such learning is made available nationwide. More importantly, we must turn that learning into action. As outlined earlier, the HSE has been asked to progress the recommendations as a matter of priority and its work is under way. It is notable that the implementation team which has been put in place by Portiuncula Hospital includes some of the families involved. I have no doubt that the process will be strengthened and the output improved as a result of the participation of those families.

I reiterate the Government's commitment to the progress of developments of maternity care in Ireland. As the House is aware, Ireland's first national maternity strategy was published in 2016 demonstrating a new and enhanced focus on maternity care at both policy and service delivery level. The maternity strategy maps out the future for maternity and neonatal care to ensure that it will be safe, standardised, of high quality and offer an enhanced experience and more choice to women and their families. The strategy recognises that, while all pregnant women need a certain level of support, some will require more specialised care. Accordingly it proposes an integrated model that delivers care at the lowest level of complexity and encompasses all the necessary safety nets in line with patient safety principles. It aims to ensure that women and babies receive the right care from the right professional at the right time and in the right place.

In 2017, the national women and infants health programme was established to lead the management, organisation and delivery of maternity, gynaecology and neonatal services. This work includes implementing the strategy and overseeing the establishment of maternity networks nationwide. Previously the Minister outlined how these maternity networks are being established across hospital groups. In addition to supporting and strengthening small maternity units such as that at Portiuncula, this development will serve to improve governance and oversight and facilitate the sharing of expertise within and between networks. The establishment of a maternity network is currently being progressed within the Saolta hospital group and the first step of that network will initially comprise Galway University Hospital and Portiuncula Hospital.

The national women and infants health programme is delivering on the vision of the strategy in line with the detailed implementation plan which was published in October 2017. Development funds allocated to progress the implementation of the strategy since its launch in 2016 have ensured that progress has been made and that services have improved. With the €4.15 million that Government allocated to maternity in 2018, the national women and infants health programme addressed several priorities including improving quality and safety, establishing community midwifery teams and increasing access to anomaly scanning services. The further €1 million allocated this year will ensure the development of maternity services remains a focus with priorities for 2019 including the ongoing establishment of the maternity networks and expansion of the strategy's supported care pathway.

Other key building blocks which have been put in place to facilitate the provision of a consistently safe and high quality service include the HIQA national standards for safer better maternity services and the HSE national standards for bereavement care following pregnancy loss and perinatal death. These initiatives, along with the national maternity strategy, clearly demonstrate that, over recent years, very significant efforts have been made and improvements achieved through a continued focus on the progressive development of maternity services right across the country. The House can be confident that we are moving in the right direction and translating plans into actions for the 80,000 families who access maternity care each year.

I want to touch on a number of the issues raised about the implementation. Saolta hospital group has confirmed that 95% of the recommendations are complete or under implementation. In addition, significant work is ongoing on the establishment of a clinical network between Portiuncula and Galway hospitals. Arrangements have also been made to have a perinatal pathologist for the hospital group. The implementation of the recommendations of this report will be audited by Saolta hospital group this coming May, one year post production.

Credit Union Restructuring Board (Dissolution) Bill 2019: Second Stage (Resumed)

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Deputy Michael D'Arcy): Information on Michael  D'Arcy Zoom on Michael  D'Arcy The role of Credit Union Restructuring Board, or ReBo, was to plan for the restructuring of the credit union sector, engage with and assist credit unions in the preparation of restructuring plans, consider and decide on restructuring plans submitted to it by, or on behalf of, credit unions, oversee the implementation of restructuring plans including the provision of post-restructuring support and oversee the operational functions of ReBo. Following on from ReBo's role in the restructuring process, the Commission on Credit Unions recommended that any restructuring proposals must have the endorsement of the ReBo board before being submitted to the Central Bank for regulatory approval, funding requirements should be determined based on credit union assessments and funding should be provided from one of three sources in the following order: excess capital from within participating credit unions, the sector itself, or Exchequer funding on a recoupable basis.

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