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Varadkar had 'useful' meeting with husbands of women who died at Sligo Hospital

Leo Varadkar met with the two men today to discuss their concerns about safety at maternity wards in Ireland.

MINISTER FOR HEALTH Leo Varadkar today met with the husbands of two women who died after giving birth at Sligo Regional Hospital.

Michael Kivlehan and Sean Rowlette have said they want measures to be put in place to improve the safety of maternity wards.

Kivlehan’s wife Dhara died in Belfast Hospital in September 2010. She died as a result of multi-organ failure nine days after giving birth to their first child at Sligo Regional Hospital.

Dhara Kivlehan inquest Source: Family handout via PA Wire

Rowlette’s wife, Sally, died at Sligo Regional Hospital in February 2013. She died one day after giving birth to her fourth child. Both women had HELLP syndrome – a condition associated with pre-eclampsia. Verdicts of medical misadventure were returned in both cases.

After the meeting, Minster Varadkar described it as “very useful”.

“I’m grateful to them for meeting with me and sharing their experiences and personal perspectives,” he said.

Based on current statistics, maternity services in Ireland are on a par with the rest of the western world. Every year we have more consultants and midwives at a time when birth rates are falling. However, there have been a number of serious cases of medical misadventure in recent years which resulted in maternal and neonatal deaths that might have been avoided, including these two cases. This gives me cause for concern as Minister for Health. In 2015 we are developing a new maternity strategy which will map maternity services for the next few decades.

Ahead of the meeting, Kivlehan had said, “If the inquest into Dhara’s death happened faster, Sligo hospital would have known how to deal with Sally’s case.

But it took four years for them to realise what had gone wrong.

The widowers are concerned that significant changes have yet to be made to ensure the same does not happen again.

Dhara Kivlehan inquest Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Both men want assurances that the HSE has learned lessons and that Minister Varadkar will introduce measures to improve the safety of maternity care.

- With additional reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

Read: Jury returns medical misadventure verdict at Dhara Kivlehan inquest>

Read: Sligo Hospital apologises to family of woman who died after giving birth>

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