Parents of babies who died at Portlaoise hospital 'were not dealt with honestly' - Leo Varadkar
Parents of babies who died at the Midlands hospital in Portlaoise had been misled over the circumstances of their children's deaths, Health Minister Leo Varadkar has said.
Mr Varadkar said he found it "extremely worrying" and "appalling" that parents who lost children at the hospital "were not dealt with honestly".
He was speaking after it has emerged that in some cases, parents were told that their child's death was the only one of its kind.
Mr Varadkar said both the HSE and his department had accepted all of HIQA's recommendations.
Speaking on RTE Radio, Mr Varadkar said it was important to create an environment where hospital clinicians at all levels were honest about mistakes made.
He conceded that in the past there had been a culture of defensiveness within the health service.
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Mr Varadkar also added that the HSE continued to dispute some of the findings of a damning investigation carried out by HIQA, the health standards watchdog.
A proposed Patient Advocacy Service could be in place sooner than the May 2016 target, Mr Varadkar said.
He also wanted to see the planned national maternity strategy published by the end of this year.
Minister Varadkar also said he expected that terms of reference would be drawn up either this week or the week after for an external review into how certain red flags at Portlaoise hospital did not pass up through HSE management. He said he expected a final report in a number of months.
Last week, Mr Varadkar said he is “ashamed” with the manner patients were treated at Portlaise hospital.
The Minister for Health said an independent patient advocacy service will be “crucial” in supporting patients and changing culture at Portlaoise hospital.
The recent Hiqa report, he said, should not be “just another report” but rather a “watershed” in the approach to maternity services.