Sunday 4 December 2016

'Lessons must be learned from Joshua's death'

Published 21/01/2016 | 02:30

Shauna Keyes from Tullamore, Co Offaly, holding a memorial card showing her baby son's footprints. Photograph: James Flynn/APX
Shauna Keyes from Tullamore, Co Offaly, holding a memorial card showing her baby son's footprints. Photograph: James Flynn/APX

The mother of baby Joshua Keyes Cornally, who died in Portlaoise Hospital six years ago, said yesterday she hopes lessons have now been learned on how to better care for maternity patients.

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Shauna Keyes was responding to yesterday's publication of the HSE review into the death of baby Joshua in October 2009, highlighting serious errors in foetal heart monitoring, delays in delivery and an absence of foetal blood sampling.

He was one of five babies to die in similar circumstances at the hospital's maternity unit over a number of years.

Ms Keyes said yesterday: "They have a cloud hanging over them at the moment but I hope that they'd learned lessons from what happened to all of our children and they're not going to allow it to happen again.

Mistakes

"Obviously mistakes will happen, they're humans at the end of the day, but it's how they approached it afterwards.

"Anybody I've spoken to who has lost a child in Portlaoise has said that it wasn't the death of their child that hurt them as badly as the lack of answers, the lack of facts, and the time delays in getting those answers and facts."

She has since given birth to a healthy baby daughter in Portlaoise.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said the findings of the report and its 23 recommendations have been implemented.

They include hiring more staff, mandatory training for CTG monitoring and new guidelines on the drug oxytocin as well as foetal blood sampling.

"The HSE deeply regrets the distress and anguish caused to these families for its failure to respond in a timely and sympathetic way."

An external review of how the HSE responded to various alerts and reports of problems in Portlaoise over the years has yet to be completed, leaving parents concerned that nobody will be held accountable for the manner in which they were responded to over the years.

The review revealed how, after Joshua's death, hospital staff suggested Ms Keyes would be transferred back to the labour ward that night. After she spoke of her distress at the prospect of hearing other babies cry, Ms Keyes, who was just 18-years-old at the time, was moved to a room on the ground floor.

The mothers of both parents were informed of the baby's death first. When Joshua's body was brought to her room she felt the coffin was too small and box-like.

The family did not get time to spend with Joshua and she was not allowed to hold, change, wash and dress him as she would have liked.

Although a review of the case was carried out in 2010, Ms Keyes and her partner were never interviewed and were unaware it was being carried out.

They continued to press for an inquest and this was eventually held in September 2013. There had been delays in getting the information needed for the inquest. Ms Keyes and her partner eventually went public, seeking answers.

Irish Independent

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