Earlier this month Joe Duffy’s Liveline on RTE Radio 1 was inundated with calls from women sharing their traumatic experiences of Irish maternity services.
The HSE subsequently apologised to those women for their experiences and for the fact that they ‘felt compelled to ring RTE to have their concerns heard’.
Following the furore, Friday night’s Late Late Show featured a segment dedicated to demonstrating how maternity services are striving for better – with a new birthing simulator called Lucina.
Master of the Rotunda Hospital Professor Fergal Malone was joined in studio by Dr Catherine Finnegan, tutor and specialist registrar at the RSCI’s department of obstetrics and gynaecology, and medical student Ciara Malone, to simulate a delivery on national TV.
Speaking about the issue of communication between women and medical professionals, Professor Malone said training is “crucial” and introduced Lucina, who was lying supine, legs akimbo, on the verge of giving birth to a plastic, crying baby.
“We have hugely evolved in how we train our doctors, how we train our midwives and our nurses,” said Professor Malone.
“RSCI has opened Europe’s latest, largest simulation centre, and Lucina is an example of the latest technology, high-fidelity simulation robot that can do anything from a normal delivery to a range of complications, and rather than waiting for students or young doctors or nurses to experience that for the first time in real life it’s crucial that we can show them how to react to that and how to deal with that in a simulated environment first.”
Lucina prompted a few giggles from the Late Late Show audience which host Ryan Tubridy attributed to the fact it was something “different”.
Dr Catherine Finnegan and Ciara Malone then demonstrated a simulated birth, including a conversation with Lucina – who complained, very calmly (clearly very chilled 1000 births later) about it being very hot in the studio – and the very fast and uneventful emergence of her baby boy into the world, and the arms of Ryan Tubridy, and applause from the audience.
“That’s so lovely, you did great,” Ryan told Lucina as the baby cried. “Memory lane,” he added.
“You see how realistic this is and with professionals like Catherine we can really recreate what goes on in a labour ward,” continued Professor Malone.
“It means our students are so much better prepared when they come to the Rotunda. It improves communication. Everything we have had recently about how do we maximise communication between doctors, nurses, and patients, who do we improve the science? This is the future.”
While the segment was, in the words of the host, “really instructive”, reaction among viewers was varied. Some questioned the approach to the birth, and how realistic it was, while others were left questioning their choice of Friday night entertainment.
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