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Portlaoise midwives wrote to Cowen and Harney over 'fears that a mother or baby would die'

Last night’s Prime Time showed how four babies died in 6 years at Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise.

Portlaoise Hospital
Portlaoise Hospital
Image: Eamonn Farrell via Photocall Ireland

A LETTER WAS written to the Finance Minister and Health Minister in 2006, expressing concerns over staffing levels at Midlands Regional Hospital.

RTÉ report that 32 midwives at the hospital wrote to the then Minister for Finance, Brian Cowen and Minister for Health, Mary Harney back in 2006.

The staff said they had “a real fear” that a mother or baby would die in their care before the issues were addressed.

Last night’s Prime Time programme showed how four babies died at the hospital over a six-year period.

The letter was written before the deaths of all the babies that were featured in the investigation.

The HSE has apologised to the families affected, saying:

The HSE and the hospital accept that there were serious shortcomings in these cases. There were unacceptable delays in completing reports, communicating with families, and in acting on recommendations. The HSE and the hospital apologises unequivocally to the families for these failings.
On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning, Professor Richard Green, Director of the National Epidemiology Centre said “some of these deaths could possibly have been avoided” if the recommendations were put into place”.
He also noted that;
A number of babies die each year around the time of birth or just immediately afterwards but it’s important to recognise that in this country that’s about one in 2,500, which is actually better than the results in the UK which is one in 1,400 or Scotland which is one in 2,000.
Green said it was very upsetting that parents weren’t informed by the HSE that investigations were conducted into their babies deaths.
He said “Patients should always be told if we believe there was something that we did wrong.”
He also said Portlaoise hospital’s perinatal mortality rate is in line with maternity services nationwide.

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Also on the show health spokesperson for Fianna Fáil Billy Kelleher noted that a tragic death occurred in 2007, a report carried out and recommendations published but nothing happened from there.

He said he could not understand why recommendations weren’t put in place after the tragic death and he called for a further investigation saying:

The HSE has apologised but I think there has to be a further investigation as to why these recommendations weren’t followed through.

You can watch the full programme here.

Missed the Prime Time investigation last night? Here’s what you need to know>

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