Minister Opens Sligo Ambulatory Gynaecology Clinic

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Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly has officially opened a new Ambulatory Gynaecology clinic and a new home-from-home birthing suite in Sligo University Hospital. More than €1.1 million has been invested to provide these significant additions to gynaecology and maternity services for Sligo and the Northwest region.

The Department of Health said that progressing women’s health was a priority for the Minister and significant investment had been dedicated to advancing women’s health services since 2020. A total of €16 million in new development funding had been  provided to the National Maternity Strategy in 2021 and 2022.

Ambulatory Gynaecology clinics provide a one-stop “see and treat” model of care for women. Approximately 70% of general gynaecology referrals are suitable for management in the ambulatory setting.

These clinics are helping to:

  • Improve access to gynaecology services.
  • Reduce the requirement for multiple gynaecology appointments.
  • Ensure sustainability of service provision into the future,
  • Improve clinical outcomes.

The Department said this clinic had already had a positive impact on the outpatient waiting list figures for Sligo University Hospital. Waiting times had been  reduced across all categories, making a real impact on women’s lives in this region.

Investment of more than €100,000 was provided for the new Suimhneas home-from-home birthing suite. This Supported Care Pathway was providing the option of a more homely environment for women when giving birth and was an option for women at low risk to receive care that was led and delivered by midwives.

Sligo has also got a pilot postnatal hub that opened in November 2023. Women who choose to participate are provided with a full check of mother and baby, birth reflections, infant feeding assessment and supports, and general future health promotion. The feedback gathered from women has been very positive of this support.   The objective of the establishment of these hubs is that, regardless of care pathway or length of stay post birth, all women will have access to a comprehensive range of services within the community for a period of 10- to 14 days postpartum.

The Minister expressed his appreciation for the dedicated work of the team in Sligo and the National Women and Infants Health Programme (NWIHP) who had driven the delivery of these services.

Sligo is one of sixteen “see and treat” gynaecology clinics operational across the maternity network. Work is ongoing with the development of a network of twenty clinics with further clinics becoming operational in 2024.

The National Maternity Strategy 2016-2026 has driven significant progress in the provision of maternity services, including the recruitment of over 500 whole-time equivalent staff across maternity services since 2017.

The Government allocated €16 million in new development funding to the strategy in 2021 and 2022. This represented the single biggest investment in the Strategy since its publication in 2016.

A key vision of the Strategy is a new maternity Model of Care. Three pathways of care have now been implemented: Supported, Assisted and Specialised.

  1. The Supported care pathway is delivered by midwives and is designed for women with normal-risk pregnancies.
  2. The Assisted care pathway is intended for mothers and babies considered to be at medium risk, and for normal-risk women, at their choice. This pathway is led by an obstetrician and delivered by a multidisciplinary team.
  3. The Specialised care pathway is intended for high-risk mothers and babies, led by a named obstetrician, and delivered by a more specialist multidisciplinary team.

The Suimhneas suite in Sligo provides the option for women of a supported care pathway for those with normal-risk pregnancies.