Donnelly calls for Rotunda to make statement over filming of RTÉ doc during pandemic

Donnelly Calls For Rotunda To Make Statement Over Filming Of Rté Doc During Pandemic
The Minister of Health said the Master of the Rotunda should make a statement on its decision to go ahead with filming
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By James Ward and Cate McCurry, PA

The Minister for Health has called for the Rotunda Hospital to explain why an RTÉ camera crew was allowed to film a programme during the pandemic while partners of pregnant women faced restrictions.

The latest series of The Rotunda, which documents the stories of expectant parents, started this week.

It has faced widespread criticism as a film crew was permitted on site when partners of expectant mothers were forced to wait outside maternity hospitals because of Covid restrictions.

Stephen Donnelly said the Master of the Rotunda should make a statement on its decision to go ahead with filming.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly (Conor McCabe/PA)

“Access to maternity services for partners has been a very, very important issue this year,” he said.

“There’s been an awful lot of very difficult cases. For me what has been particularly distressing is cases where there have been emergencies and partners haven’t been able to get in.


“We’re at a point now where there may be localised reasons for Covid-related infection prevention and control decisions to be made to protect mums and babies.

“Obviously, you must respect and support our clinicians when they’re making clinical decisions to protect mums and babies.

“But other than that, the services need to be as open as possible.


“But you know, even when Covid is gone, the level of access we need isn’t going to be there. And it isn’t going to be there because of decades of underinvestment in women’s health and in maternity care.

“I think the maternity visits and on all of the concern, the frustration and the real heartache that caused through the year, it’s indicative of something we need to do after Covid.”

Fianna Fáil senator Lisa Chambers said it was “wrong” to allow filming to take place.

“I was disgusted to see that programme air when mums were left alone, dads were left to wait in the carpark,” Ms Chambers said.

“It is wrong, Rotunda should answer questions on it, I think RTÉ should have known better than to do it.

“It is just compounding the hurt that many parents across the country feel when they remember the experience that they have been through.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said there should be “consistency” when making clinical decisions.

“Fathers and partners shouldn’t be facing restrictions and I’ve have been consistent on that quite some time, and I’ve made my views known to the Chief Executive Officer of the HSE who has undertaken to ensure there would be uniformity across the system,” he added.

“Clinical autonomy applies but I don’t think it was appropriate that partners were denied access but then media were allowed in .

“I think there has to be consistency in terms of decision making, but I’m not privy to the clinical decision making in respect of the Rotunda, but I do think there has to be consistency.”

Mr Martin said he also understood the anger from parents.

“I believe that you can’t have one set of guidance for partners, and another set of guidance then for media,” he added.

RTÉ and The Rotunda have been asked for comment.

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