Thursday 8 December 2016

'I am ashamed at the manner in which patients were treated,' Leo Varadkar on Portlaoise hospital

Published 14/05/2015 | 12:32

Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar has said he is ashamed at the manner patients were treated at Portlaoise hospital.

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The minister conceded that some patients and their families were treated “dreadfully and at times inhumanely" and said an independent patient advocacy service will be “crucial” in supporting patients and changing the culture at the hospital.

Mr Varadkar, junior minister Kathleen Lynch and director general of the HSE, Tony O’Brien, appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children.

Read more: 'They knew children could die, that lives could be ruined, but they did nothing'

 “I am ashamed at the manner in which patients were treated without respect, care and compassion when they most needed it by members of my own profession and other professions,” Mr Varadkar said.

“Many did not receive the quality of care we should expect from a modern health service in the developed world. Patients and their families were treated dreadfully and at times inhumanely.”

A damning Hiqa report recently revealed that the HSE failed to take appropriate action to deal with a litany of issues at Portlaoise Hospital.

Read more: HSE failed to take appropriate action to deal with litany of issues at Portlaoise Hospital - damning HIQA report

The investigation by the health watchdog was instigated following a Prime Time documentary which probed the deaths of five babies at the hospital.

It found the hospital itself was unsafe and that grieving parents of dead babies faced grossly inappropriate and traumatising practices there.

Mr Varadkar last night met some former patients and their families affected by the issues.

Read more: 'We thought we were the only ones ... we were wrong'

The health committee heard Portlaoise hospital is expecting about 1,900 births in its maternity unit in 2015, with Mr Varadkar and Mr O’Brien assuring the committee that changes have been made to the unit, with more to come.

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