Minister publishes the National Women and Infants Health Programme’s Report

by Rose Barrett
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Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly has published the National Women and Infants Health Programme’s (NWIHP) Annual Report for 2022.

The NWIHP’s role in the Health Service Executive (HSE) is to lead the management, organisation and delivery of maternity, gynaecology and neonatal services, strengthening these services by bringing together work that is currently undertaken across primary, community and acute care.

Minister Donnelly said:

“Improving women’s health is one of my priorities, and this report clearly demonstrates that the increased investment in 2022, including almost €8.7m million for the National Maternity Strategy, is having a positive impact on women’s healthcare.

“The focus we have placed on women’s health is making a difference, and the targeted investment is translating into improvements for patients. For example, over 100 full-time staff were funded for our maternity services in 2022, allowing us to increase choice of care even further by ensuring that all 19 units now have an advanced midwifery practitioner to implement the supported care pathway.

“We have also added clinical midwifery specialists in areas such as diabetes, parentcraft and high-risk pregnancy, and we have funded and advanced the development of postnatal care hubs.

“The Ambulatory Gynaecology Model of Care continued to be rolled out, with a total of 12 clinics operational by the end of 2022. There was also significant development in the areas of menopause, endometriosis, and fertility, with new services delivered and progressed throughout the year.”

Developments in Maternity Services in 2022

NWIHP’s 2022 Report sets out several important developments and achievements, including:

 Ambulatory Gynaecology Model of Care

Funding for the recruitment of an additional 175 whole time equivalents (WTEs), including ten Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, 54 additional midwives and 23 Health and Social Care Professionals.

  • Continued focus on increasing the consultant Obstetrician/Gynaecologist workforce to reach a minimum of six for each regional hospital.
  • A framework for postnatal hubs was developed which will provide postnatal care within the community in line with the findings from the National Maternity Experience Survey and Sláintecare objectives. The first five Hub sites have been identified and staff recruitment is underway.
  • A framework for the establishment of a National Perinatal Genetics Service was developed which will focus on the evaluation, diagnosis, management, and treatment of anomalies before birth.
  • In conjunction with the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), the first GP Lead in women’s health was appointed to NWIHP, an integral role in achieving Sláintecare objectives.12 new clinical guidelines in Obstetrics and Gynaecology were developed over the course of 2022. These guidelines were launched in January 2023;
  • Investment was prioritised in specialist services, including gestational diabetes, with Clinical Midwife Specialists appointed to all services.
  • An Integrated Epilepsy and Maternity Model of Care was developed in collaboration with the National Epilepsy Clinical Care Programme.
  • A review of perinatal pathology services was carried out, and a network for this critical service developed across three of the maternity networks.
  • The first National Maternity Bereavement Experience Survey was undertaken in September and October 2022. The survey offered women and their partners the opportunity to share their experiences of Ireland’s maternity bereavement care services.
  • The roll-out of Phase Two of the Obstetric Events Support Team (OEST), enhancing learning from adverse events.
  • In the context of ensuring a safe, high-quality, standardised service, NWIHP continued to place a strong focus on staff education and training. For example, in 2022, NWIHP appointed a Project Co-ordinator for the development and implementation of an antenatal education programme.
  • A baseline review of Obstetric Emergency Training was completed.
  • The first Annual Midwifery Conference was held on 5 May 2022. This event was a wonderful celebration of the role and importance of midwives in maternity care.



 Model of Care for Infertility

Feature image: generic image of menopausal woman

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