Staff redeployed from the National Women and Infants Health Programme (NWIHP) to assist in the HSE’s response to Covid-19 are “expected” to return to their roles “over the coming weeks”, according to the HSE.
Seven of the programme’s nine staff members were redeployed, leaving just Clinical Director Dr Peter McKenna and another senior management colleague in place.
Six staff members were transferred to contact tracing while the other member provided operational support at the Citywest facility, a HSE spokeswoman told the Medical Independent (MI).
“Due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the cessation of all elective healthcare services, a number of members of the National Women and Infants Health Programme (NWIHP) were redeployed,” the spokeswoman said.
Yet, unlike other areas of healthcare, the work of the maternity services has continued during the pandemic, with more than 9,000 babies born in recent months.
This is why the redeployment of almost all staff at the NWIHP has been a concern among those working in maternity services.
One senior consultant has expressed concern that the redeployment would lead to further delays in the implementation of the national maternity strategy, which was published four years ago.
No new development funding was provided for strategy’s implementation plan in 2019 and progress remains slow.
There are now fears that funding and developments planned for 2020 will not be realised, leading to even more delays.
The HSE spokesperson said: “The NWIHP team have done weekly calls with the maternity networks to ensure continuity of non-Covid services, and to address Covid-19 concerns that have emerged. The NWIHP team have been extremely busy over the past few weeks, in the absence of their redeployed colleagues.
“As the HSE now re-starts non-Covid-related activity, the redeployed NWIHP members will now transition back to their substantive roles. It is expected that this will happen over the coming weeks.”