Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services (AIMS) Ireland is a consumer-led voluntary organisation that was formed in early 2007 by women following their own experiences in the Irish maternity system.

They organised socially distanced protests on Tuesday of this week to end maternity restrictions which took place in Cork, Coombe, Donegal and Our Lady’s of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

Meath Live managed to get in contact with Drogheda native and AIMS Ireland’s co-founder, Jene Hinds.

Hinds told us about the protest,saying  “AIMSI are out protesting today to call for an end of restrictions in maternity services, which excludes partners from being involved in the journey into parenthood and has seen women denied the emotional and physical support of those closest to them when they are most vulnerable.

“Since March 2020, AIMSI have been in contact with the Minister, HSE, and the 19 maternity units seeking the publication of scientific data, risk assessments, which support these restrictions.

This evidence has not been supplied. The key issue for AIMS Ireland is that partners are not visitors. These restrictions have caused immense distress in every corner of Ireland. We are standing here, 15 months in, at a time when Ireland is opening in all other sectors, in solidarity with those deeply affected and to tell the Minister, the HSE, and the 19 units to lift the restrictions, and lift them uniformity”.

 

It was revealed that Our Lady’s of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda has already started lifting some, but not all, restrictions in relation to maternity services. When asked about this Hinds replied: “AIMSI have called for a uniformed approach for maternity services prior to the Covid pandemic. There are national guidelines for maternity services, but ultimately each individual unit is given the scope to create their own localized policy. This is why we see such a wide range of geographical variation, the Covid restrictions are no exception. AIMSI have requested the specific data, in the form of risk assessments which are meant to be published as per best practice; this has not happened in any unit. I cannot speak for OLOL, I can only ask for the evidence, if there is any, to support these policies and decisions”.

 

We asked Hinds how did the protest in Drogheda go and did it receive a lot of support? Hinds said that “we had fantastic support today in Drogheda! Lots of passers-by expressed support, lots of beeps and thumbs up”. Hinds also revealed that they managed to get in contact with a man waiting on news from a scan from his car. Hinds claimed “It was really heart breaking. I’m thinking of them both and hope all is well”.

 

The Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly announced today that “there is no reason that there should be any limits on visitation at maternity hospitals for partners unless there are local covid19 concerns that are explained in writing to the HSE”.

 

We asked Hinds if she was happy with this announcement from the Minister, she stated: “At this point, we need less talk and action. The Minister of Health insists it’s not in his remit, but states restrictions on visitation should not be in place. I would again reiterate, fathers, partners, are not visitors and should never have been treated as such. I ask the Minister for leadership and to provide transparent, direct solutions to lift these restrictions now”.