The Master of the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street in Dublin has said the way to better maternity services in Ireland is to increase the numbers of senior trained doctors and midwives. 

Dr Rhona Mahony said maternity services in Ireland rely heavily on non-consultant hospital doctors. 

She said the Government needs to focus on training as part of efforts to recruit and retain staff.

Dr Mahony said Ireland had the lowest number of obstetricians in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and that in the UK the numbers were three to four times higher.

She said there were problems in recruiting and retaining existing staff and there were a myriad of reasons for that.

She said the parties involved should work collaboratively to try to recruit people.

Dr Mahony said it was necessary to look at all the terms and conditions for staff.

She said while outcomes for Irish patients compared very favourably internationally, it was not purely about the crude outcomes.

She said behind those figures was the experience patients are having.

Dr Mahony said having a baby was a natural phenomenon but was fraught with complications naturally.

She said not all of these complications were somebody's fault, but it was just the complex physiology of giving birth.

Dr Mahony said it was a speciality that required a lot of attention and was required to be very well resourced.