TO suggest the welfare of Limerick mothers and babies was being sacrificed in order to pay off German banks was “outrageous”, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has told the Dail in response to criticisms this week by consultant obstetrician Dr Gerry Burke.
Deputy Willie O’Dea had asked the Taoiseach for a response to Dr Burke’s concerns over an “exodus” of midwives from the Mid-Western Regional Maternity Hospital.
Up to 20 are expected to go next month under a retirement scheme that sees public servants get pensions based on their pre-cut salaries. Combined with those who have already left the Ennis Road hospital, this would leave the Maternity more than 20 per cent short of its complement of midwives and no contingency plan had been presented by Government or the HSE to date, Dr Burke said.
Responding to Deupty O’Dea, the Taoiseach said there was a plan in place to cope with those retiring from the health service, which was why the first review of the HSE service plan was set for the end of February so that numbers could be assessed.
“Deputy O’Dea can take it that the HSE have a contingency plan here but you can’t determine the outcomes until you’ve seen the numbers who will actually leave. They can decide to make their minds up right to the very end,” Mr Kenny said.
But Deputy Niall Collins described the Taoiseach’s assurances in relation to Limerick Maternity as “waffle”.
“The Government are sleepwalking into a situation where mothers and their unborn or newborn children will be put at risk due to the application of the embargo and the lack of a contingency plan,” he told the Limerick Leader.