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Striving for better maternity services

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has launched an eight-week public consultation on draft National Standards for Safer Better Maternity Services.

This represents the first service-specific standards developed by HIQA. Standards for maternity services aim to improve the quality and safety of care received from maternity services. HIQA is now looking for feedback from the public on the draft standards.

Chief executive of HIQA, Phelim Quinn said, “This marks a new beginning for anyone who uses maternity services. These draft standards have been developed to improve the standard of maternity services offered to women nationally. For most women pregnancy and childbirth are safe and are associated with a happy outcome. Unfortunately, this is not the reality for all and at times this has been due to sub-standard care. Our standards will work to ensure that maternity services are responsive to the needs of all women and their families, and that maternity service providers put women’s needs and preferences at the centre of the service.”

“In recent years, the Government, HIQA and other stakeholders have identified a need to improve Irish maternity services. A number of high-profile reviews and investigations found failings in the care and support offered to women including HIQA’s 2013 Galway investigation report and 2015 Portlaoise investigation report; both of which have highlighted that women have faced serious failings in their maternity care and identified a series of significant service deficits. Following the Portlaoise investigation, HIQA committed to the development of these standards as an important mechanism for driving quality and safety.”

The new draft maternity standards cover eight themes of care including, person-centred care and support and better health and wellbeing, to improve outcomes for women and babies.

The draft standards were developed alongside a standards advisory group made up of a diverse range of interested and informed parties, including women who had recently used the maternity services, patient advocates, healthcare professionals, and representatives from the Department of Health and the HSE.

HIQA also held 12 focus group meetings with women and their partners and with front-line staff working in maternity services. A guide to the draft standards and the feedback form can be found at www.hiqa.ie.

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