New Bill to Give Partners the Right to Support Mothers at Maternity Hospitals.
Please see the Maternity Care(Covid-19) Bill 2021 and the Explanatory Memorandum Attached.
Aontú has submitted the Maternity Care (Covid-19) Bill 2021 to the Dail’s Bill Office today. If enacted it would ensure that mothers receiving maternity care could be accompanied in hospital during childbirth and on occasions prior and subsequent to the birth by their partners. Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD stated;
“We submitted this bill due to the ongoing difficulties experienced by mothers and fathers at some Maternity Hospitals. In some hospitals mothers are going into emergency presentations on their own. This is hugely distressing. In some hospitals fathers can only attend when the mother is in the labour ward. This means that the early stages of labour which can last for many many hours has to be done on their own. Some mothers have to go to daunting appointments on the health of their babies on their own. This puts serious pressure on mothers and their partners. This can have significant mental health effects on mothers especially when the life of the child is in danger.
For months the government and many Ministers have said that they would change this. But for months little has changed in some hospital. Senior clinicians in the HSE, including Tony Holohan have put guidelines in place for maternity care. These guidelines have been not been adhered to by many hospitals. This does not make sense. Most fathers and partners are close contacts of mothers. Antigen testing could be used to reduce risk further. Moving some maternity services such as Antenatal services into a community care setting could relieve pressure on maternity hospitals and facilitate best practice. Maternity services are grossly underfunded and the ongoing culture war over the St Vincent’s site is holding up the building of a new National Maternity Hospital.
All the while outside of these Maternity Hospitals life is returning to normal. Tens of thousands are attending football matches, people are going on holidays to foreign countries, thousands are attending concerts in the north, indoor hospitality has reopened and university students will return to campuses shortly
The Aontú Maternity Care (Covid-19) Bill 2021 simply seeks to ensure that an accompanying person can attend with a mother receiving maternity care in hospital during childbirth and on specified occasions prior and subsequent to the birth; and to ensure that the accompanying person is permitted to visit the baby in the event that he/she is in a neonatal intensive care unit or special care baby unit. If the public health guidelines change for whatever reason in the future, the Dail can alter this legislation to suit the new reality. Until then I urge the political establishment to support the Aontú Bill and finally support mothers and their partners at a key moment in their families lives.