HSE accused of 'playing ducks and drakes' with coroner's office in case of baby who died hours after her birth
The HSE has been accused of “playing ducks and drakes” with a coroner’s office over the death of a baby who died hours after she was born in hospital in 2014.
The allegation was made by a lawyer for the family of the late baby, Livia Ukova-Marini, who was born and died of natural causes on May 18 of 2014 at St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny, at an inquest into the baby’s death.
Solicitor Raymond Bradley, for parents Ludmila Ukova and Aldo Marini, said there has not been full disclosure by the HSE of depositions relating to the baby’s death. “Depositions have not been provided and medical details have not been provided,” he said, adding that documents are being received by the family’s solicitors “on a piecemeal basis”.
A full copy of the CGT, the trace performed on baby Livia’s heart in hospital, was only received last Friday, Mr Bradley told the inquest. “I’ve been looking for that for two and a half years. It’s unacceptable leading into an inquiry of this nature.”
He was entitled, he said, to have the CGT examined by a foetal medical specialist.
“The HSE are playing ducks and drakes with your [coroner’s] statutory functions and powers and it’s occurring on a persistent basis,” he submitted to the coroner for Co Kilkenny, Tim Kiely.
“Oral depositions were not delivered until last Tuesday. That’s not acceptable. Most of them were not delivered until last Tuesday. Some were only delivered this morning. Some have still not been delivered and this inquest is supposed to start.”
Mr Bradley said: “This family have lost a child and to be treated in such a cavalier manner is most inappropriate. It’s wrong.”
The family’s solicitor applied to have the inquest held in the presence of a jury, which was agreed to by Mr Kiely. Mr Bradley said a jury should be empanelled in any case involving maternity services.
“The Portlaoise scenario should be sufficient reason that a jury should be empanelled to deal with these types of inquest.”
The coroner agreed that it was “correct that the documentation has been provided in a piecemeal fashion” and said that, as he received documents from the HSE, he passed them on to the family’s solicitors.
“What occurred here is that the HSE appears to be allowed to operate as a filtering system to access the detail to you, and therefore the family,” Mr Bradley said to the coroner.
“That is wrong. You don’t have the resources, I accept that. This is an example of the failure of resources.”
Mr Kiely said he agreed that it was “predominantly a resource issue”.
Paul McGinn BL, for the HSE, said he didn’t think the circumstances of this case gave rise to a need for a jury. “Were there to be issues of ongoing concern of practices, perhaps I would have a different view, but there’s no evidence before you of that.”
He said he understood a Freedom of Information request was made for the CGT in 2015, and “that was fully complied with”.
The hospital was “not in any way trying to obfuscate or prevent this inquest,” he said.
Mr Bradley said he first wrote to the HSE seeking depositions on May 23 of 2014, five days after the death of Livia.
He applied for the inquest to be adjourned because he wanted the CGT to be examined by an independent expert and because depositions were only delivered last week and some have still not been obtained.
Mr Kiely agreed to adjourn the inquest until February 5. Earlier he told the baby’s parents that it was “an extremely difficult day for you, the loss of your first child”.
Mr Bradley said it was “the most tragic circumstance imaginable” and had “left a huge impact on the family”.