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Calls for an independent inquiry into maternity care at Portlaoise hospital

Patient Focus is calling on the Minister for Health and Children to consider as a matter of urgency the need for a wider review of other maternity units also.

The Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise
The Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise
Image: Photocall Ireland

PATIENT FOCUS SAID it wants a “wide-ranging” investigation to be undertaken in the maternity care at Portlaoise hospital going back at least ten years.

The patient advocacy group said they are working with a number of the women and families who were involved in the RTÉ Investigations Unit programme who state they were not told investigations had taken place into their babies’ deaths.

They said the RTE investigation programme tonight will reveal a very “worrying situation”.

Deaths

The babies were alive at the onset of labour but died either during the labour or within seven days of their birth at a Maternity Unit in Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise. All of the deaths occurred over a six-year period.

According to RTÉ, in the cases it examined there were no congenital abnormalities, which means that the babies “did not have a physical condition where their ability to survive was diminished resulting in death”.

Patient Focus state that it is “alarming that the recommendations of several reviews seem to have been ignored at the unit appearing to lead to the unnecessary deaths of babies. Hospital management must be held accountable for not ensuring that these recommendations were acted upon speedily”.

They added that health professional too have responsibility for the quality of care they provide to women and babies.

Immediate action by the HSE and hospital management should be taken, they said, adding that the HSE should set up a helpline for women due to give birth in the near future at the hospital.

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Review

Women and their families will require details regarding the safeguards and changes, if any, put in place at the unit as a result of the recommendations of reviews and inquests into baby deaths, they said.

In addition, they want the HSE to contact anyone who may have been involved in an adverse event or review or investigation at the unit in the past and fund a second opinion for all those so concerned.

Patient Focus called on the Minister for Health and Children to consider as a matter of urgency the need for a wider review in relation to the care provided to mothers and babies in other maternity units.

The special Prime Time programme airs tonight.

Related: Deaths of babies at maternity units investigated>

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