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Minister for Health marks World Patient Safety Day 17th September 2021

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, has today marked World Patient Safety Day 2021. Ireland supports this international initiative, led by the World Health Organization, which focuses on raising awareness and ensuring that patient safety is established as a global health priority. The theme this year is ‘Safe Maternal and Newborn Care’.


Minister Donnelly said: “I am delighted to be able to help celebrate and promote this year’s World Patient Safety Day on the theme of ‘Safe Maternal and Newborn Care’. In recent years, Ireland has placed a very deliberate and targeted focus on the development of maternity services. Through the implementation of the National Maternity Strategy and Health Information and Quality Authority’s maternity care and bereavement standards, we are seeing tangible improvements that enhance the safety and experience for women, babies and families.”


Dr. Peter McKenna, Clinical Director of the HSE National Women & Infants Health Programme added:


“There are many important elements to providing a world class maternity service. The one component that must be front and centre of any maternity service is safety - for the mother and for the baby. Ireland does well in terms of good results for mother and baby. Whilst this is reassuring, it is only one step in providing a service that will ensure the safest and best outcome for each and every mother and baby. This is an objective that everyone providing maternity care is committed to.”


The Minister praised the commitment of healthcare workers involved in providing maternity and newborn care:


“We have incredible people working in our maternity services and in community and hospital settings, with dedicated and talented staff providing excellent care all year round.”


Rachel Kenna, Chief Nursing Officer, Department of Health added:


“On World Patient Safety Day, I would like to both celebrate and recognise our fantastic midwives, and indeed all maternity staff, not only for the joy, compassion and comfort they bring to mothers and families but also for the central role they play in keeping mums and babies safe.”


Significant investment has taken place since the publication of the National Maternity Strategy to ensure safer services, quicker access, more choice, and more appropriate facilities. Since 2015, maternity hospitals and units in Ireland publish Monthly Maternity Patient Safety Statements. The objective in publishing these statements is to provide the public with assurance that maternity services are delivered in an environment that promotes open disclosure and also informs hospital management in carrying out their role in safety and quality improvement.  


Ireland’s first National Maternity Experience Survey was conducted in 2019 and included questions on respect and dignity, involvement in decisions and communications. The next survey is planned for 2023.








World Patient Safety Day:


World Patient Safety Day is part of a World Health Organization (WHO) global campaign to raise awareness and ensure that patient safety is established as a global health priority. It was established in 2019 to enhance global understanding of patient safety, increase public engagement in the safety of healthcare and promote global actions to enhance patient safety and reduce patient harm.


World Patient Safety Day 2021 asks stakeholders to “Act now for safe and respectful childbirth!” with the theme “Safe maternal and newborn care”.  


The WHO state that approximately 810 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.  Considering the significant burden or risks and harm women and newborns are exposed to due to unsafe care, compounded by the disruption of essential health services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, World Patient Safety Day 2021 is even more important this year.


Fortunately, the majority of stillbirths and maternal and newborn deaths are avoidable through the provision of safe and quality care by skilled health professionals working in supporting environments.  


Further details of the WHO global campaign are available at: 


Department of Health initiatives to support safe maternal and newborn care:


In January 2016, Ireland’s National Maternity Strategy: Creating a Better Future Together 2016 - 2026 was published. The Strategy’s vision is for woman-centred services that provide safe, integrated, team-based care, delivered with respect and dignity. New governance structures, additional Quality and Safety managers and senior Midwifery staff amongst others are helping ensure Ireland remains a very safe place to have a baby.


This year, unprecedented funding of €17m has been provided to women’s health, with €7.3m specifically for maternity services. This investment will ensure safer services, quicker access, more choice, and more appropriate facilities.


The Department of Health is committed to including healthcare quality indicators with a focus on maternity care in the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System Annual Report. The 2020 Report included national data on rates of caesarean section and maternity experience and comparisons with international healthcare systems.


Findings of the National Maternity Experience Survey 2020:


  • Over 3,200 women took part in the 2020 National Maternity Experience Survey.
  • 19 maternity hospitals and units participated.
  • 85% of participants said that they had a good or very good overall experience.
  • The word ‘midwives’ featured strongly in over 6,000 written comments in the 2020 National Maternity Experience Survey. They were overwhelming positive and highlighted the importance of midwives in delivering care.