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Bereaved parents: 'It needs to stop now, enough pain and enough hurt has been caused'

Calls have been made for HSE Chief Tony O’Brien to resign.

Updated: 5.50pm

TWO COUPLES WHOSE babies died at Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise are addressing the Joint Committee on Health and Children today.

It comes following a HIQA report which was highly critical of the hospital. The report came after an RTÉ Prime Time investigation into the deaths of five babies at the hospital.

90380633 Leah Farrell Leah Farrell

Mark and Roisin Molloy lost their son Mark 22 minutes after his birth in January 2012.

Mark said he believes there was ”an attempt at both a local and national level to suppress repeated known red flags, which perpetuated failings leading to repeated deaths and injuries at a huge emotional, physical and financial cost to families and patients”.

Amy Delahunt fought back tears when she stated to the committee that she was the mother of Mary Kate Kelly died May 2013. She was stillborn. She said,

We demand to know how these deaths happened.

“The Director General of the HSE Tony O’Brien must stop misinforming the public that these events were before his time at the HSE.

She said HSE management was “clearly incapable” and called for the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to launch an investigation into all levels of HSE management.

In a second sitting of the health committee, Renua Ireland leader Lucinda Creighton was very critical of O’Brien, saying: “What I would like to know, I suppose, is how you say that you are not responsible … How can you not feel in any way accountable?

Calls for O’Brien’s resignation

In a statement, Creighton called for O’Brien to resign, saying the HSE failed to live up to its responsibility to keep patients safe.

“The most serious issue Mr O’Brien must deal with is public concern over the response of the HSE to the HIQA report.”

Screenshot 2015-05-19 at 5.22.50 PM Tony O'Brien

She added that “given the importance of maintaining public trust in public institutions, it is all the more critical that a higher standard of accountability is imposed”.

Instead, uniquely amongst mature democracies, Ireland appears to be the one state where the buck never reaches the bosses desk.

When committee chair Jerry Buttimer said the way the families were treated in some cases was “beyond human decency”, O’Brien said: “Nobody here is seeking to excuse any of that … There was an inexplicable and inexcusable breakdown in care and compassion.”

O’Brien noted that resources were a serious issue at the hospital and “unreservedly” apologised to parents for the clinical mistakes made, as well as the “lack of compassion” shown to them.

‘Lip service’

It took a jury just five minutes to rule the inquest into Mark Molloy’s death as a case of medical misadventure.

90380634 Leah Farrell Leah Farrell

Mark’s mother Roisin told the Committee, “When we met at every level we thought we were bringing something new to them…we knew fairly soon it was lip service.

People were apologising to us, they’d say it to us ‘We’re sorry’ but there was no action.

“It was completely lost on the HSE to learn from Mark’s death and get it investigated. We followed the HSE’s own system but they themselves were diverting from it constantly.

Mark added that he felt like it was hoped they would just go away. He said at times the couple would question themselves when sending e-mails at 4am but fighting back tears, he added:

Mark hung on longer then he should have had to be born alive so we kept fighting.

When asked about a change of management at Midlands Regional Hospital, Mark said, “I won’t step foot in the place ever again.”

‘It needs to stop’

90380635 Ollie Kelly and Amy Delehunt who lost their daughter Mary Kate Kelly at Portlaoise Hospital. Leah Farrell Leah Farrell

Speaking about the HSE, the father of Mary Kate Kelly, Ollie said:

If they listened, our little baby would be here today.

“We’re known as the fifth case…at all levels there was opportunities, there were flags and alarm bells but they failed us. A hospital is a safe place, it’s where you go to be cared for, but Amy wasn’t cared for.

“Quite frankly I never want to see anything like this happen again.

“We were told it had never happened before and it will never happen again.

“We grieved that her death had to be for the greater good. We never told our families what happened. We just wanted Christmas to flow through and then we watched the adverts for Prime Time.

When we realised then we were not the only ones. We were just gut wrenched. We watched it again the next morning on Sky Plus and just cried through it.

“We were disgusted that we were led to believe we were the only ones.”

Speaking about receiving the report into their baby’s death, Ollie said:

“I had to read a report that said Amy discharged herself against medical advice. It’s still sitting in our file in Portlaoise. We had to go as far as an inquest to right that wrong.

“Amy had to go on stand to prove her innocence, to prove she didn’t walk out on her child.

It needs to stop now, it just needs to stop. Enough pain and enough hurt has been caused. We need to put the pressure on to get these implementations put in place.

State picking up the tab  

The Molloys said that they felt they were ‘up against the system’.

“Every time you wrote an e-mail you’d hear back, ‘We’re seeking legal advice on this’.

“People were encouraged to sue, we were encouraged to sue. When that happens the HSE stop their investigation immediately. The HSE throw money into the inquests.

The state is picking up the tab for the HSE whereas the family are left with the bill.

Taxpayers money is being used to limit the scope of investigation.

Cathríona Molloy from Patient Focus told the Committee that “as soon as the programme was over, e-mails were flooding in. We were shocked. The fact the HSE didn’t recognise that is scary.”

- with reporting by Órla Ryan

Read: Baby’s remains squeezed into tiny box and given to parents>

Read: HSE investigate death of baby born at Midlands Hospital>

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