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26 Jan 2022

Durkan welcomes movement on long overdue Maternity Strategy

Mark H Durkan

Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan: " I’m glad that work to progress this essential framework to improve maternity services here will begin soon."

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan has welcomed confirmation from Health Minister, Robin Swann that work will begin early this year to progress an updated Maternity Strategy.

The current strategy ended in 2018 and is yet to be replaced.

Back in May 2021, the Royal College of Midwives called for a new maternity strategy in the North to be put in place citing the low numbers of midwives aged between 20 to 30 years of age compared to the high level of midwives in their late 50s as a concern.

Mr Durkan stated the news of a new strategy was welcome saying it was vital that the delivery of maternity services needed to be improved with changes to pay and conditions required to attract more people to train as midwives.

He said: “An updated maternity strategy is crucial and I’m glad that work to progress this essential framework to improve maternity services here will begin soon.

“In March 2020 the Department of Health carried out a clinically-led review of Maternity and Neonatal services to update a maternity strategy. Unfortunately, the onset of the COVID pandemic hampered the implementation of this already long delayed piece of work.

“Of course, the implications of the pandemic will need to be considered in the development of any new strategy, including workforce issues. It has been over a decade since the strategy on maternity services was put in place, they cannot afford to be neglected any longer.

“It is vital that the delivery of maternity services is improved, that the number of midwives are sufficient to meet growing demand and that changes are made to pay and working conditions to attract more people into the profession.

“Essentially, the purpose of maternity services is to deliver a healthy population and ensure babies across the North receive the best start in life. Efforts must also be made to ensure parents are supported through every part on their pregnancy journey including improving access to perinatal mental health support for new mums.

“I’m conscious that a renewed maternity strategy is not a panacea but it is a positive step forward. We need to also see this backed by financial investment to ensure new recommendations can be implemented.”

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