We reported last week that one of the results of the collapse in Ireland’s economy in 2008 was a drastic reduction in hospital patient care due to a moratorium on recruitment and that nowhere is that more evident that in maternity hospitals. We also commented that unless immediate steps are taken to rectify the situation Ireland's proud record of having one of the lowest levels of maternal mortality would come to an end.
The result of this policy has so far been more detrimental to babies than to mothers but there has also been major criticism of the way bereaved families were treated by the hospital resulting in calls for proper peri-natal to be given to all families suffering such a bereavement.
A recent report of the loss of four newborn babies in a six-year period in the Portlaoise maternity unit was sadly overtaken by a new report of the loss of yet another baby last weekend.
See report from the Irish Independent
The HSE has confirmed it is investigating another baby death in Portlaoise maternity unit over the weekend.The baby died on Saturday and a post mortem is to take place to determine the cause of death, a spokeswoman said.The tragedy has led the hospital to trigger its incident management response which is standard following a baby death.The spokeswoman said the hospital offered its condolences to the family at this tragice time.The latest death follows the announcement by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) last week that it is conducting a full investigation into the standards of patient care across the hospital.A recent report by the chief medical officer of the Department of Health Dr Tony Holohan said the families of four babies who died over six years had been treated in an appalling manner.The babies died between 2006 and 2012 after they suffered a fall in oxygen.The baby’s foetal distress in the womb was not identified or acted upon while their mothers were given a drug to quicken labour which led to a further drop in oxygen.A number of other baby deaths are also to be examined by HIQA which will also look at the treatment given to parents at the hospital.Phelim Quinn, HIQA’s Director of Regulation said the investigation will will include an assessment of the patient safety culture at Portlaoise.He added:“The investigation team will review the arrangements for providing safe, quality clinical care which will include how the Hospital focuses on the needs of patients, the management and leadership at the hospital.”It will also review the systems and processes that support safety and quality and the communication between staff and patients, particularly when patient safety incidents occur and when complaints are madeHealth Minister James Reilly said he could not give an assurance that some fo the failings found in the Portlaoise unit were not happening in maternity centres around the country.“It is not good enough for hospitals to tell us they are doing something. We need outside monitoring of hospitals,” he told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health.“This report Report shows that the planned patient safety agency has a vital place in our health service.The agency will be established shortly and applications for a chief executive will be invited.It will be a patients' champion supporting patients to ensure that they receive an appropriate response to safety issues.”