Wednesday 24 May 2017

Varadkar and O'Brien's biggest test: to deliver safe maternity services

Tony O’Brien and Leo Varadkar were keen to emphasise that services are now safe
Tony O’Brien and Leo Varadkar were keen to emphasise that services are now safe
Sara Burke

Sara Burke

Five babies died in Portlaoise Hospital between 2006 and 2013. The maternity unit was unsafe, with insufficient frontline clinical staff, under-resourced to cope with the complexity of care required. Had lessons been learnt from previous HSE inquiries into Portlaoise and Hiqa reviews into Ennis and Mallow hospitals between 2007 and 2010, babies' lives could have been saved.

The 208-page damning Hiqa report into Portlaoise found that the Intensive Care Unit was 'not fit for purpose', the Emergency Department and surgical services were unsafe, while medical services needed "significant restructuring and resourcing".

Management and staff at Portlaoise Hospital, in the HSE regionally and nationally failed to act on adverse incidents and deaths.

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