Q Why is there such concern about the Portlaoise Hospital maternity unit?
A Four babies died there in the last six years in similar circumstances. They suffered a lack of oxygen after their mothers were given syntocinon to speed up their labour. If there is foetal distress during labour this drug can worsen it.
Q What have the authorities had to say?
A The HSE has accepted that there were serious shortcomings in each case. It also confirmed reports were carried out but were not followed up on.
Q What was the most important recommendation?
A That the hospital should introduce foetal blood monitoring – this was not done until recent weeks.
Q Why has Minister for Health James Reilly asked for a report?
A Not only did the hospital not put enough safety measures in place, it also failed to communicate with parents. Reports on some of the deaths were not given to parents, who did not know they were being done.
Q Will this report satisfy the parents?
A No, they want a comprehensive, independent, inquiry carried out by an expert from outside the HSE. They already know how their babies died but want answers on how their cases were handled by the hospital and the HSE.