April 1, 2023

Birth right: Call to end partner restrictions at Kilkenny maternity ward

A local TD has urged St Luke’s General Hospital in Kilkenny to end its policy preventing partners of expectant mothers attend appointments with them.

Carlow Kilkenny TD Kathleen Funchion called on Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to intervene and immediately end maternity restrictions at St Luke’s for expectant women and their partners.

Restrictions remain at St Luke’s maternity ward, despite Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan saying earlier this week that preventing partners from attending appointments was not a national policy.

Deputy Funchion said: “I met with expectant mothers and their partners who are understandably angered and frustrated that their needs have not been given any meaningful consideration during the process of easing public health restrictions.

“They have carried an unequal share of the burden during the fight against Covid-19 and now they need to be heard.

“The World Health Organisation strongly recommends supporting women to have a chosen companion during labour and childbirth, including during Covid-19 restrictions.

“Instead, we hear daily stories of women going to their appointments alone while their partner has been left outside in the car park.

“Sadly, in some instances, we have been told of women being told the most awful of news with nobody there to comfort them.”

The Sinn Féin spokesperson for children questioned why the policy remains in place at St Luke’s in spite of the successful vaccination roleout strategy.

The Carlow-Kilkennt TD added: “The vast majority of maternity staff are vaccinated, while pregnant women are being prioritised for vaccination.

“This progress, along with the extensive public health measures being enforced across our hospitals and maternity services, overwhelmingly strengthens the argument that we must end maternity restrictions now.

“The Minister for Health must intervene and agree to minimum standards of care, and minimum standards of partner access for all hospitals and maternity services during pregnancies.

“This must include access to all appointments and scans during the course of a mother’s pregnancy and labour, as well as all neonatal and postnatal care,” Deputy Funchion added.

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