HIQA to commence monitoring maternity hospitals and maternity units against the National Standards for Safer Better Maternity Services

Date of publication:

Today, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has announced that it will commence inspecting all nineteen maternity hospitals and maternity units in public acute hospitals to assess the implementation of the National Standards for Safer Better Maternity Services, with a focus on obstetric emergencies. To give hospitals and the public an overview of the monitoring programme, HIQA has today published a Guide to HIQA’s monitoring programme against the National Standards for Safer Better Maternity Services, with a focus on obstetric emergencies.  

The National Standards for Safer Better Maternity Services published by HIQA in December 2016 support the implementation of the National Maternity Strategy, which was launched by the Minister of Health in January 2016. 

The majority of pregnancies are low-risk. For a minority of women, even those considered to be at low-risk of developing complications, circumstances can change dramatically prior to, during labour and delivery or immediately following delivery, and this can place both the woman's and the baby's lives at risk. Clinical staff caring for women using maternity services need to be able to identify potential problems and respond quickly when required. For example, ensuring that staff with the necessary experience and competencies are available when required to provide the appropriate care.  

This guide aims to provide an understanding of HIQA’s approach to monitoring compliance with the relevant National Standards for Safer Better Maternity Services in order to examine how maternity hospitals and maternity units are led, governed and managed on a daily basis. The programme will also assess how maternity hospitals and maternity units identify higher risk women and provide or arrange for their care in the most appropriate clinical setting. In addition, maternity hospitals and maternity units will be assessed to determine if they are resourced to detect and respond to obstetric emergencies which occur and if there are sufficient numbers of clinical staff who are supported with specialised regular training to care for women and their newborn babies. 

Inspections under this programme will be conducted in all nineteen maternity hospitals and maternity units and unannounced inspections will begin July 2018.

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Notes to Editor:

•    The National Standards for Safer Better Maternity Services were published by HIQA in December 2016 and the National Maternity Strategy was launched by the Minister for Health in January 2016.

•    The new monitoring approach was developed in consultation with a specially convened expert advisory group, which included technical expertise and patient representation.


•    HIQA has designed an evidence-based monitoring programme focusing on obstetric emergencies and underpinned by the National Standards for Safer Better Maternity Services.