Department writes to HSE over delayed MLU report

The Department of Health has written to the HSE asking them for an update regarding a report on Cavan General's Midwifery Led Unit (MLU), The Anglo-Celt can reveal.

The review, which came about following a threat to merge the MLU in Cavan with consultancy-led services at the local hospital facility earlier this year, was due for completion at the end of last month. It is now several weeks overdue.

The Department asked the National Women & Infants Health Programme (NWIHP) to conduct a full report on the proposed change to the service, with the decision then taken to conduct the review in-house, within the RCSI Hospital Group, which takes in Cavan General Hospital.

The still outstanding examination is being overseen by Group Clinical Director for Maternity Services in conjunction with Directors of Midwifery in Drogheda and the Rotunda Hospitals.

“The report into the midwifery led maternity service provision at Cavan General Hospital was expected to be completed by the end of September,” a spokesperson for the Department informed the Celt this week. “The Department has written to the HSE requesting an update on the status of the report.”

The MLU at Cavan General is one of only two such units in the country, alongside Drogheda, despite the fact that a roll-out of the service nationally is a critical component of the National Maternity Strategy (2016-2020).

In response to a parliamentary question put in the Dáil last week by Cavan-Monaghan Fianna Fail TD, Niamh Smyth, new Minister for Health Stephen Donnolly stated that, once the report is received by his office, the Department would work with the NWIHP to “ensure that any additional supports which are required to secure the future of community midwifery services in Cavan, will be put in place".

Former Minister for Health Simon Harris admitted to having been blindsided by the decision to merge local maternity services, initially recommended from within the RCSI Group.

No new cases were to be admitted from June 1.

But, within a matter of days, and following public outcry and an online petition, the proposal was put on 'pause'.

Last year 211 expectant mothers passed through the MLU, with 74 births out of a total 1,377 at the local hospital.

In 2018, there were 1,512 births, of which 95 were in the MLU.