Monday 5 December 2016

HSE 'failed to reduce Portlaoise Hospital safety risks' - report

Published 07/04/2015 | 09:32

Portlaoise Hospital
Portlaoise Hospital

A draft report by the State’s health regulator has revealed that the Government did not ensure Portlaoise hospital was safely resourced.

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The report outlines how the Government ‘determined’ the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise should have 24-hour surgery and critical care, but did not ensure it was safely resourced to provide that level of service.

The draft report by Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa), seen by the Irish Times, also reveals that the HSE focused on budgets and failed to maintain oversight of the hospital.

Five babies have died in controversial circumstances at the hospital in recent years.

Each of the babies died during or shortly after labour. The hospital investigated the babies' deaths, yet failed to tell the families about the investigations and their findings.

This Hiqa report, which the HSE threatened to injunct the publication of in March, shows that Portlaoise Hospital was removed from a list of 10 smaller hospitals where services were being reconfigured because of safety risks.

Read more: Health reform is impossible until managers can be held accountable

Hospitals on the list would have had their 24-hour services replaced with daytime units.

The report details how Portlaoise was removed from the HSE list after former Health Minister James Reilly told an Oireachtas health committee in July 2011 that it was not Government policy to downgrade Portlaoise hospital because it had maternity and paediatric units, the Irish Times reports.

The report says the HSE was aware of patient safety risks at Portlaoise, as was the Midlands Regional Hospital itself, but failed to act to reduce the risks.

The report is also critical of the hospital’s failure to learn from mistakes in other parts of the health service, as identified in previous reports.

Read more: HSE and Hiqa must ensure it's safe to give birth in all Irish maternity units

It says there was “no clear vision of the services that Portlaoise Hospital could and would safely provide into the future”.

The report also details how, on a national level, HSE managers were focused on budgets and failed to maintain oversight in the hospital.

It also reports how they were unaware of the situation in the hospital until the RTE Investigations Unit programme in January 2014 which exposed the deaths of healthy babies.

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