Antigen testing and consistent approach needed on maternity restriction

Alan Kelly TD
10 May 2021
  • Minimum standard of care needed across the country

Labour leader and health spokesperson Alan Kelly TD has once again urged the Government to provide clarity on maternity restrictions, ensure there is a consistent application of a minimum standard of care across the country, and for antigen testing to be used to ensure partners can attend scans, and support women in labour.

Deputy Kelly said:

“No woman should have to experience moments during pregnancy and labour alone any more as the country is being opened up. This has been a constant issue throughout the pandemic, but with more and more people vaccinated, and case numbers falling, it is clear we need a consistent approach on maternity restrictions. Antigen testing of partners, if implemented would provide an immediate extra layer of protection as healthcare staff, and pregnant women have been, or will soon be vaccinated.

“We can’t have a postcode lottery of inconsistent application of restrictions, and frankly it’s been barbaric what some women have had to go through, and it’s unfair when we now have ways to resolve it. TDs should not have to be highlighting cases in the Dáil. Neither should pregnant women, new mothers and their partners have to take to Twitter and the media to try to bring forward change.

“Across Ireland women and their partners have spoken out asking for a minimum standard of care in our maternity hospitals and now is the time to ensure it is implemented so that a support partner can attend scheduled scans and appointments, attend for all of labour and induction.

“We have an entirely incongruous situation happening today – on a day where people are going to their hairdressers, sports starting back, museums reopening, there is still no clarity for the lifting of maternity restrictions. It is maddening to think that women are still expected to continue to put on a brave face and experience one of life’s biggest moments alone. I highly doubt that men would be asked to experience the same level of disregard in the health system.

“When the dust settles on the pandemic, I want to see a full and comprehensive examination of how we treat women’s health in this country. I need not list the many failings from the CervicalCheck programme to women’s lack of freedom in terms of their reproductive health. Labour has done its bit to try and redress the situation but the change must go beyond the legislative process. It’s clear that there’s a healthcare gender bias in this country – evidenced most recently by RTÉ’s Joe Duffy finally opening up a conversation about menopause.

“I want to commend the activism and campaign of so many people on this issue. The Government can’t continue to drag its heels on this issue. We need to act fast to ensure people are no longer missing out on being with each other during scans and labour. We need to end the maternity restrictions now.”

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