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Saturday 3 June 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Eamonn Farrell via Photocall Ireland Portlaoise Hospital
# fatal failures
Missed the Prime Time investigation last night? Here’s what you need to know
The programme investigated the deaths of four babies at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise.

Updated 31 January, 6.30am

FOUR BABIES DIED over six years at the Maternity Unit in the Midlands Regional Hospital, Portlaoise.

Last night’s Prime Time Fatal Failures programme investigated those deaths.

In the cases it examined, RTÉ found that “there were no congenital abnormalities, meaning the babies did not have a physical condition where their ability to survive was diminished resulting in death. Therefore other factors led to their deaths”.

On 27 October 2009,  Shauna Keyes and her partner lost their baby Joshua after he was delivered by C-Section.

Shauna told Prime Time that after he died, he was given to her and a Polaroid camera was taken out to take pictures. She said:

I deliberately closed my eyes because I wanted it to look like we were asleep together and that he wasn’t actually gone.

imagePic: RTÉ Investigations Unit

She said that after the death they were told different reasons for why he died, including that his organs were too heavy; he had showed signs of Down syndrome and wouldn’t have survived; and that a heavy blow during pregnancy could have caused his death.

Baby Mark

On 24 January 2012, Roisin and Mark Molloy from Tullamore lost their baby boy Mark.

The couple have four other boys, aged between four and eleven years old, and said that baby Mark  ”looked like the other boys, same hair, same features”.

At a meeting with hospital staff they were told it was rare that a baby died in Portlaoise hospital.

Then one day Roisin heard Shauna on local radio being interviewed about trying to raise funds for the hospital in Portlaoise.

Roisin felt the cases were very similar and she contacted Shauna. Shauna said it “was like somebody lit a bulb in my head” and she began a search for answers.

Unanswered questions

The Molloys spent two years trying to find out what went wrong and if it was, in fact, a stillbirth in the case of their baby.

They eventually found hospital records which recorded that baby Mark had a heartbeat at birth.

Mark’s death was then reclassified as a neo-natal death and an inquest was held.

imagePic: RTÉ Investigations Unit

Last month, baby Mark’s inquest was held and it took the jury just five minutes to rule that he died “due to medical misadventure”.

Roisin Molloy said: “Mark’s death is so black and white. He shouldn’t have died. There is no grey area.”

Prime Time discovered that the findings in both reports were “mirror images” of each other.

The Molloys said:

Baby Mark would not have died if the hospital had learned from baby Joshua’s death.

Baby Nathan and Baby X

The programme also investigated the death of baby Nathan, who passed away 15 months before baby Joshua.

Nathan was born on 27 July 2008 and died 6 days later.

A report into baby Nathan found care at the hospital “deviated beyond safe limits” and that “there were a number of failings in the care provided by the hospital to both the mother and baby”.

Meanwhile, Baby X died in 2006. The family of baby X were never told there were investigations into its baby’s case.

Both of these babies died before baby Joshua or baby Mark passed away, and Prime Time found that “the hospital and HSE had failed to implement the previous recommendations in full, which may have saved these babies lives”.

The Molloys are angry at Portlaoise Hospital, saying: “They knew what went wrong and they let our baby die”.

HSE apology

The HSE tonight released a statement apologising to all families concerned:

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.

The families say they have no faith that the changes they fought for will come into force.

Calls for an independent inquiry into maternity care at Portlaoise hospital>

Deaths of babies at maternity units investigated>

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