Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Paternal postnatal depression found to affect 12 per cent of fathers RCSI Nursing and Midwifery Conference hears

19 February 2015

Minister for Health addresses international conference on advancing nursing and midwifery practice

Postnatal depression in fathers and community-based nursing cancer care are among the topics being explored at the RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) 34th Annual International Nursing and Midwifery Research and Education Conference, which takes place today. Minister for Health, Mr Leo Varadkar, TD, is among those who will address the conference on the theme ‘Advancing Nursing & Midwifery Practice: Linking National & International Perspectives'.

More than 200 nurses and midwives will attend the event to hear speakers from the USA, the United Kingdom, the Middle East and Ireland on the latest developments in areas such as ageing and palliative care; wound management and tissue viability; acute, intensive and emergency care; community and primary health care; and midwifery and mental health issues.

Speaking at the conference Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said: "Nurses and midwives are at the heart of patient safety and patient care; Ireland's nurses are well educated, highly-skilled and motivated. They are a great asset for the health service. We must ensure that this pool of talent is utilised properly, and that we get the best possible outcomes for our patients. So this year's conference on Advancing Nursing and Midwifery Practice couldn't be more timely. In Ireland, one of the options being looked at is the development of new interdisciplinary nursing roles. I know these are exciting times for nursing and I know that the Chief Nurse, Dr Siobhan O'Halloran is spearheading further developments in the professions."

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar addresses the conference

Professor Marie Carney, Dean of the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery at RCSI said: "Nurses and Midwives are at the forefront of the clinical and leadership needs of the health service. The theme of this year's conference provides a great opportunity for critical debate regarding the policy, regulation, education and health service challenges in relation to advancing professional practice for nurses and midwives both in Ireland and internationally. As well as evidence of best practice in nursing and midwifery research, education and clinical activities being presented by our delegates, we are honoured that Her Royal Highness Princess Muna Al Hussein of Jordan and the Minister for Health Mr Leo Varadkar will give global and Irish perspectives on this important professional and healthcare agenda."

Among the research presented at the conference is a study by Mr Lloyd Philpott from University College Cork on ‘Paternal Postnatal Depression (PPND): Prevalence and Associated Factors'. Mr. Philpott will discuss the results of a study co-authored by Dr. Paul Corcoran which involved 100 fathers from the south of Ireland,18 years or older with a child less than 12 months old. 12 percent were found to have symptoms of paternal postnatal depression. The factors found to increase the risk of paternal postnatal depression included; a lower level of education, having an infant with sleep problems, having a pre-term or overdue infant, a history of depression, lack of support from a partner, living in rented accommodation, poor economic circumstances, not having paternity leave and not being married. The study illustrates that paternal postnatal depression is a real and significant public health issue that is presently underscreened, underdiagnosed and undertreated.

The conference opened with an address from Her Royal Highness Princess Muna Al Hussein of Jordan, WHO Patron of Nursing and Midwifery in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, who was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, the highest honour the Faculty can bestow. The Honorary Fellowship was awarded in recognition of her lifetime commitment and contributions to nursing which began with her founding of the Princess Muna College of Nursing in 1962 and since then she has worked tirelessly for the profession.

Pictured (l-r) are Her Royal Highness Princess Muna Al Hussein of Jordan and Professor Marie Carney, Dean of the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery

Reading HRH Princess Muna's citation, Professor Edna Woolhead, Board Member & Former Dean, RCSI Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery commended HRH for a range of important contributions to nursing: ‘Princess Muna's vision to regulate nursing and provide quality care for the public led to the creation of the Jordanian Nursing Council in 2002. The JNC has reformed nursing in the country and established strong ties with prominent world nursing and health institutions."

"HRH's commitments to the development of nursing are directed to the most disadvantaged groups, namely the elderly and mental health service users. Under her leadership, a multidisciplinary unit at the National Mental Health Centre was established with the aim of early intervention and effective treatment of mental disorders in primary health care. In addition HRH supports initiatives aimed at enhancing the wellbeing of the elderly while identifying gaps in local needs", Professor Woodhead said.

Honorary Fellowships were also awarded to Mr Paul Gallagher, Director of Nursing at St James Hospital and President of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland and Ms Rachel MacLeod Spring, Consultant Midwife and Coordinator of the Rose Project at Bwaila Maternity Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi, for their outstanding contributions to nursing and midwifery.

Other topics being presented at the conference include:

Evaluation of the community oncology nursing programme, Dr Marie Laffoy & Ms Terry Hanan, National Cancer Control Programme, HSE. The aim of the Community Oncology Nursing Programme is to enable community nurses to provide shared nursing care to oncology patients at home. The skills-based programme resulted in reduced hospital bed utilisation and unnecessary hospital attendances. It greatly increased the skills of community nurses and improved patient satisfaction.

Testing the Effectiveness of Early Intervention in an Irish Experimental Trial, Dr Orla Doyle, University College Dublin, Ireland. This study investigates the impact of an Irish early intervention programme, Preparing for Life (PFL), from birth until 24 months. This five year home visiting programme aims to improve the life course of disadvantaged Irish children by intervening during pregnancy and working with the families until the children start school. Early results suggest the programme is improving children's health and development, as well as parenting skills. 

Research Excellence Across Clinical Healthcare, Dr Linda Nugent, RCSI and HSE Dublin North, Ireland. Research Excellence across Clinical Healthcare (REACH) is a strategic research capacity building programme for nurses and midwives in Dublin, established in 2013 by the Nursing and Midwifery Planning and Development Unit (NMPDU), HSE, Dublin North. The NMPDU, in partnership with RCSI Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, is implementing the programme and aims to develop the research role, profile, skills, research experience and research output of clinical nursing staff in Dublin North services.


RCSI is among the top 50 most international universities in the world (Times Higher Education University World Rankings, 2014-15). It is a not-for-profit health sciences institute focused on education and research to drive positive change in all areas of human health worldwide. RCSI is headquartered in Dublin and is a recognised College of the National University of Ireland. In 2010, RCSI was granted independent degree awarding status by the State, which enables the College to award degrees alongside its traditional powers to award licentiates.