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Hospitals will be required to report all maternal deaths under a new law

Legislation on this issue was proposed by Independents4Change TD Clare Daly and the government said its new bill incorporates the amendments she sought.

Image: Sam Boal

THE GOVERNMENT IS moving forward with new legislation that will require hospitals to report all maternal deaths to the coroner.

The decision comes off the back of legislative changes proposed by Independents4Change TD Clare Daly in 2015. She sought a law that would require an inquest into every maternal death in the State so that bereaved families would not have to spend years fighting to find out what happened.

Introducing her own bill back in 2015, Daly told TDs that her proposal was prompted by inquests into eight maternal deaths between 2007 and 2013 which returned verdicts of medical misadventure.

They were Tania McCabe who died in March 2007, Evelyn Flanagan who died in October 2007, Jennifer Crean who died in February 2007, Bimbo Onanuga who died in March 2010, Dhara Kivlehan who died in September 2010, Nora Hyland who died in February 2012, Savita Halappanavar who died in October 2012 and Sally Rowlette who died in February 2013.

Daly said the inquests into the death s of these eight women “had to be fought for tooth and nail by their bereaved families”. She also pointed out that the time that lessons learned in these cases could prevent further deaths.

This week Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan secured government approval for the publication of a Coroner’s Amendment Bill 2018. It incorporates the amendments sought by Clare Daly and also addresses other reforms required by coronial law.

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It will strengthen the legal powers of coroners and also addresses the issue of maternal and perinatal deaths in hospitals, which should be reported to coroners because they raise issues of medical error.

The bill will ensure that all maternal and perinatal deaths must be reported to coroners by the hospital and will put in place a statutory list of examples so that reporting requirements are clear.

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