Bereaved parents slam HSE review of hospital
Parents whose babies died in Portlaoise Hospital have slammed a HSE-commissioned review which is aimed at determining if individual managers and other staff should be held accountable for failures which led to the tragedies.
Nobody has been held to account for the failures at local, regional and national level, which safety watchdog Hiqa found continued for years. Five babies died in similar circumstances at the hospital from 2006 to 2013.
Roisin Molloy, whose son Mark died in the hospital in 2012, said she were distraught that a private disciplinary review is being controlled by the HSE and that its findings will not be made public.
Although a damning report by Hiqa was published in May, criticising failures at all levels of the HSE following the deaths of the five babies, the review into accountability is only now getting under way.
"We reiterate our call for a full public inquiry into how this was handled.
"We asked for a disciplinary inquiry a year ago and were refused," said Ms Molloy.
It is understood that the review has hired two senior barristers to do a preliminary examination of the HSE staff who had responsibility at various levels of care standards in the hospital.
Their recommendations will be further reviewed by a panel from the UK who have been hired by the HSE.
The review is being commissioned by the HSE's interim Director of Human Resources, Ian Tegerdine. Families who lost children at the hospital will not be interviewed as part of the process.
The review is expected to rely on the findings of the Hiqa report. It was supposed to get under way shortly after the Hiqa report's publication in May and was due to be completed in three months.
A spokesperson for the HSE would only say yesterday: "The HSE can confirm that this review is currently in process."
In the wake of the report in May, the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar estimated that it would take just three months for a review to be completed into why senior executives failed to act to reduce the risks to patients at the hospital.
A plan setting out the future of services such as the emergency department in Portlaoise is due in the coming months.
It is expected to recommend that the emergency department be downgraded to an urgent care centre but this will not happen until well after the general election.
It is expected to become a heated election issue locally - with opposition parties criticising the failure of the Government to make it safer soon.
The HSE has insisted that the hospital's maternity unit is now safe and it has strengthened links with the Coombe Hospital in Dublin as part of an overall oversight of training and standards.