LOUTH County Hospital is set to lose its maternity clinic, causing a massive inconvenience to the expectant mothers of Dundalk.
The current clinic will be moved to Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda, meaning expectant mothers will have to travel down the road if they want to receive the service of the clinic.
The Dundalk Democrat were informed of the planned move by Cllr Tomas Sharkey, and following a request from the paper the HSE said: “There is currently a proposal to reorganise consultant obstetrics/gynaecology sessions so that time is used as efficiently as possible. It is envisaged that these will run on the Drogheda site, those at Navan and Dundalk ceasing. At the same time, a new diagnostic hysteroscopy service is proposed for the Dundalk site: this is proposed to run on a weekly basis, but there is potential for further expansion.”
Cllr Tomás Sharkey has received confirmation from the HSE that there are plans to end antenatal clinics for pregnant mothers in Dundalk and Navan hospitals and move them to the Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. “Ante natal clinics are important for pregnant mothers and their babies. They are crucial for the proper screening of the health of both mother and baby. I have spoken with a number of pregnant women and staff about this cruel news.
“When a woman is 14-16 weeks, she attends her first maternity clinic in Louth County Hospital, often with her partner accompanying her. This clinic is midwife led. The mother’s medical history is recorded, blood tests taken and a scan is carried out on the womb. In Dundalk these clinics are held on a Tuesday and 12 mothers are seen on each clinic.”
“This is then followed a few weeks later with a second clinic which is run by nurses and doctors. A urine sample is taken, the mother’s blood pressure is checked and the mother has a consultation with the doctor. Follow up appointments are made for later weeks as the doctor sees fit. This all takes place on a Wednesday and 50-60 mothers attend on these days. “Also on a Wednesday, mothers who plan on giving birth in the Midwife Led Unit in Drogheda meet the midwife who will support them at the birth.
“Staff and patients have been hearing rumours of this cut to services over recent weeks. I received confirmation from the HSE this week of what is to happen. It is a huge blow to expectant mothers. Once again the women and children are being punished by cuts in our health service. Once again, we in the Save Our Hospital Service Campaign have to do the HSE’s work by uncovering and informing the public of cuts. “Moving Dundalk mothers to a clinic in the Lourdes Hospital will put more pressure on that hospital. A nurse told me that “you couldn’t swing a cat” in the clinic waiting area in Drogheda never mind send 60 extra pregnant women there. I have yet to quantify how many mothers will lose out with the cuts in Navan. “A taxi from Drogheda to Dundalk will cost an expectant mother €45 and a Navan mother would face a €35 taxi fare home from an antenatal clinic. This cost will lead to a dangerous situation where mothers will be forced to chose not to go to her appointments.
“More than 12 years ago when the maternity ward was closed down in Dundalk, the community were promised a Mid wife Led Unit in it’s place. That never came. This new round of cuts will end the last remains of services for pregnant women in Dundalk.
“It is a savage attack on patients and families. “Minister James Reilly needs to step in and prevent these plans.”