The health watchdog has made a number of recommendations to ensure the sustainability of maternity services at Letterkenny University Hospital.
While the hospital received an overall positive report, HIQA has stated that some minor improvements are required.
An inspection of services in Letterkenny was carried out in August with the details published today.
The hospital was found to have out-dated and restrictive physical infrastructure that did not meet the recommended design and infrastructural specifications for contemporary maternity services.
For example, the obstetric operating theatre for emergency cases was not adjacent to the Labour Ward.
Hospital management was actively working to optimise maternal care and to progress implementation of the National Standards.
At the time on the inspection, while there was some evidence that there were collaborative working arrangements between Letterkenny University Hospital and the other maternity units in the Saolta University Health care Group which enabled the sharing of expertise and clinical services, a formalised network with a single governance structure, as recommended in the National Maternity Strategy, was not fully implemented.
However, the hospital needs to ensure that mandatory training is completed by midwifery, nursing and medical staff within recommended timeframes.
Although there was evidence of audit activity at the hospital, the audit activity, especially in relation to obstetric emergencies, could be improved. Increasing the focus on audit activity will help provided assurances to hospital managers and clinicians that the care delivered in the maternity units is safe and effective.
There was evidence that quality improvement initiatives had been implemented in the hospital but the hospital should, with support from the hospital group and in line with National Standards, implement a structured and resourced quality improvement programme to further enhance quality and safety.
Following this inspection the hospital needs to address the opportunities for improvement identified in this report and to continue to progress with the transition to a maternity network for the enhancement of a safe, high-quality maternity services at Letterkenny University Hospital.
Link to full report here: https://www.hiqa.ie/system/files?file=inspectionreports/letterkenny-university-hospital-07-08-August-2019.pdf
Meanwhile, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association has expressed concerns over a long-term commitment to fund women’s health services in western counties.
Its emerged that funding required for the operation of the Galway University Hospital Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service has been diverted which the IHCA says has resulted in women in the Saolta Hospital Group which includes Donegal who need support being deprived of services which are available throughout the rest of the country.