The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, has today announced additional funding to the HSE of €1.58m euros to fund 24 additional Lactation Consultants, thereby providing support to every maternity unit in the country.
A Lactation Consultant is a healthcare professional with specialist breastfeeding expertise who can assess and treat both common and serious nursing problems thereby increasing the mothers likelihood to initiate breastfeeding successfully and to continue to breastfeed.
The posts come about following a review of international best practice. Ireland has decided to use the New Zealand model for the Irish system. Based on desired ratios of lactation consultants to births there should be 64 such posts in Ireland. To date the HSE already has 30.5 in place and 9.5 in recruitment meaning that for optimum levels, an additional 24 Lactation Consultants are needed. This commitment today of funding for these 24 new posts means that the whole country is covered in accordance with the National Breastfeeding Action Plan targets.