MyOptions Live Chat delayed again: Disappointment for Deaf & Hard of Hearing

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Dáil Issues, Health, Parliamentary Questions

To ask the Minister for Health the status of the accessibility of termination of pregnancy services including the availability of information materials in different languages and the accessibility of My Options for persons that are deaf or hard of hearing; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY: The HSE’s MyOptions service is a free unplanned pregnancy support service for support and information about an unplanned pregnancy.

MyOptions offers non-directive, free counselling and information for people experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. Information is available about all options, including continued pregnancy supports and abortion services.  

The MyOptions phone line is now providing information and support in over 240 languages through a free and confidential telephone interpretation service. This service is open from 9am to 9pm from Monday to Friday and 10am to 2pm on Saturday.

When an interpretation service is required, MyOptions arrange for an interpreter to phone a caller back for a three way conversation between the person, a MyOptions counsellor and an interpreter where the interpreter will help the client to speak to a MyOptions counsellor in their own language. This service is free and confidential.

Work is on-going to progress the translation of the MyOptions campaign material into languages specific to women from ethnic minority communities. The translated resource materials will be available from the end of May 2019.

MyOptions also supports Irish Sign Language users with their calls to MyOptions by providing a live video-link to an Irish Sign Language interpreter. Irish Sign Language users can book an appointment with IRIS online. This service is free of charge.

Work has commenced on the introduction of a live chat service on Myoptions.ie and is due to become operational in May 2019.

The MyOptions public awareness campaign is also running across national radio, posters and social media to ensure that those who need the service are aware of the correct details and telephone number.

QUESTION: To ask the Minister for Health the status of the geographic accessibility of termination of pregnancy services; the locations in which ultrasound scanning is provided; if hospitals are operating catchment areas for the provision of termination of pregnancy services; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

Two hundred and ninety-four (294) GPs have signed the contract to provide a termination of pregnancy service and more GPs are signing up as the service evolves. The HSE is satisfied that there is a good geographic spread of GPs taking part, enough to meet the needs of people who may need to access the service. In consultation with GPs, a decision was made to make participating GP details available by calling the ‘My Options’ helpline, rather than publishing a list of GPs. Due to GP availability and capacity to take additional patients, not all 294 GPs are on the ‘My Options’ list at any one time.

All maternity hospitals are providing some level of termination of pregnancy services, with 10 hospitals providing terminations in early pregnancy (up to 12 weeks), as follows:

Ireland East Hospital Group

1. National Maternity Hospital – Holles Street

2. Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar

RCSI Hospital Group

3. Rotunda Hospital

4. Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda

Dublin Midlands Hospital Group

5. Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital

Saolta Hospital Group

6. University Hospital Galway

7. Mayo University Hospital

University of Limerick Hospitals

8. University Maternity Hospital Limerick

South / South West Hospital Group

9. Cork University Maternity Hospital

10. University Hospital Waterford

The matter of catchment area is no longer an issue for the Rotunda or the Coombe. The catchment area issue for the National Maternity Hospital is to be addressed by the Group CEO of Ireland East Hospital Group.

A private provider is currently providing ultrasound scans, for termination of pregnancy, in Letterkenny, Cork and Dublin. Outside of these locations, ultrasound scans are being provided by the local maternity hospital.

There is regular ongoing engagement between the Department of Health and the HSE to facilitate the smooth-running of the termination of pregnancy service and to resolve any issues that may arise.