Results of new national survey show that most women have a positive experience of Ireland’s maternity services
The results of the first-ever National Maternity Experience Survey, published today, show that 85% of participants had either a good or a very good experience of maternity care in Ireland. Most women who took part said that they were treated with respect and dignity, and had confidence and trust in staff. Participants spoke very highly of the midwives and staff who cared for them, both in hospital and in the community.
While most women reported positively on their experiences of maternity care, 15% did not. The period shortly after birth was highlighted as an area requiring improvement — a number of women said that they were not involved as much as they wanted to be in decisions about their care after birth, and commented that staff were often too busy to help them or answer their questions. Some women said that they did not receive the physical, mental and emotional supports that they needed at this time, and would have liked more assistance to feed their baby.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said: “The National Maternity Experience Survey was a key recommendation of the National Maternity Strategy, and I am very pleased to see that the survey has now come to fruition and the voice of the woman has been heard. What is clear from the survey is that women’s experiences of our maternity services are overwhelmingly positive, and it is important that we now extend what works well, right across the system.
“It is also clear that some women had experiences which were not so positive. It is equally important that we learn from those to ensure that we address the areas where improvement is required. Providing high-quality, dignified and safe maternity and neonatal care to women and their babies is very important to me and this objective is shared by the entire government. Learnings from the survey must therefore be disseminated widely and acted upon in a timely manner. Of course, we must also ensure that we continue to listen to women’s voices if we are to deliver the safe, compassionate and responsive maternity service that the women of Ireland expect and deserve.”
HIQA’s Director of Health Information and Standards Rachel Flynn said: “Our maternity services must be responsive to the needs of women. Thousands of babies are born in Ireland each year to women who will all have a unique story to tell about their care during pregnancy, childbirth and at home with a newborn baby.
“It is only by listening and learning from the experiences of Irish mothers that we can bring about effective and sustainable changes to our maternity services, and put women and their babies at the centre of maternity care. I wish to thank all of the women who took the time to respond to the survey and share their experiences of maternity care.”
HSE CEO Paul Reid said: “We are very grateful to all the women who participated in the survey. As well as publishing the survey results today, we are also publishing the response of our community and hospital teams to the findings. Each maternity hospital and Community Healthcare Organisation has developed a quality improvement plan with clearly-defined actions to improve maternity care.
“At a local and national level we are committed to making and monitoring these changes. We are clear about our priorities for perinatal mental health, feeding support and health information at every part of the maternity journey.”
The report on the findings of the 2020 National Maternity Experience Survey, and the HSE’s quality improvement plans (QIPs), can be found at www.yourexperience.ie.
To find out more about the results of the National Maternity Experience Survey, watch this short video and our animation. You can also visit www.yourexperience.ie and follow us on social: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
For further information please contact:
Marty Whelan, Head of Communications & Stakeholder Engagement
Notes to the editor
- The 2020 National Maternity Experience Survey asked new mothers about their recent experiences of Ireland’s maternity services — from antenatal care, through labour and birth, to postnatal care.
- The aim of the survey is to learn from the valuable feedback provided by new mothers to improve Ireland’s maternity services and make them safer and better for women and their babies.
- The survey included questions taken or adapted from a library of questions developed by the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) in collaboration with the National Care Experience Programme. A sample of the survey can be found here.
- Women aged 16 or over who gave birth in October 2019 in Ireland’s larger maternity hospitals/units, or in November 2019 in smaller maternity units/at home, were eligible to take part in the survey. Participants were required to have a postal address in the Republic of Ireland.
- 6,357 eligible new mums were contacted by post in February and March 2020 and received a unique code to access the online survey. The survey closed on Thursday, 30 April.
- 3,204 women responded to the survey, resulting in a response rate of 50%.
- Ireland’s five maternity hospitals and 14 maternity units, as well as the National Home Birth Services, participated in the National Maternity Experience Survey. A full list is available here.
- The results for the 19 participating maternity hospital units area available at www.yourexperience.ie.
- The National Maternity Experience Survey is part of the National Care Experience Programme, a joint initiative by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), the HSE and the Department of Health. The Programme also includes the National Inpatient Experience Survey.
- The survey preceded the COVID-19 epidemic and does not reflect the current challenges faced by pregnant women, new mothers, HSE staff and services.