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'They were lied to': Health Minister speaks out over baby deaths

The Health Minister Leo Varadkar has spoken out about the findings in HIQA’s report on the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise.
May 17th 2015, 8:25 PM 16,651 41

THE HEALTH MINISTER Leo Varadkar has spoken out about the death of babies at Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise.

In an interview on RTÉ’s This Week programme, the Minister made the admission that the parents of the children were lied to by staff at the hospital when asking if the death of their child had come as an isolated incident.

This follows a report on maternity services at the Midland Regional Hospital by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).

When asked if this was part of a cover-up, Varadkar said that it was asking him to “describe motivations of individuals whose names I don’t know and who I have never met, so I can’t answer that question”.

He went on to say that the findings were extremely worrying, and that:

It’s not just appalling for those parents who were not dealt with honestly. It is also particularly worrying because what we need is a health service culture where … everyone who could actually make a mistake, to understand the value of open disclosure.

As part of the interview the Minister also said that the HSE dispute some of the detailed findings in the HIQA report, but that his Department and the health service did “accept all of the recommendations, which is the most important thing”.

When questioned on how the recommendations in the report would be implemented, Varadkar said that a new steering group would be introduced to oversee the introduction of the recommendations.

“It will be done by me, within my Department. We will also include a patient representative on that committee and we will make sure that the recommendations are implemented,” he said.

The Health Minister also said that he expected an external review into Portlaoise hospital to be set up either this coming week or the week after, with a report expected within three months.

Read: “To err is human, to cover up is inexcusable” – eight babies died at Portlaoise Hospital

Also: “Like something from a Frankenstein novel” – bereaved mother describes Portlaoise Hospital’s morgue

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Michael Sheils McNamee

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