Monday 26 August 2019

Assurances given over safety of abortion services after tragic termination

‘Understanding of service’: Dr Peter McKenna held discussions. Picture: Collins
‘Understanding of service’: Dr Peter McKenna held discussions. Picture: Collins
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The National Maternity Hospital has responded to a request from the Department of Health seeking assurances on the ongoing safety of its abortion services.

A hospital spokesman said it had spoken to department officials and Dr Peter McKenna, head of the National Women and Infant's Health Programme.

"They fully understand the service we provide," he said.

The discussion followed a call by the department following the case which resulted in a termination at the hospital after a test found the unborn had a fatal foetal abnormality. A later test showed the baby was healthy.

The distressed parents are looking for an independent inquiry. An external review of the case by experts from the UK is planned, but the specialists needed to carry it out have yet to be secured.

The matter is now expected to be raised in the Dáil by Fianna Fáil spokesman on health Stephen Donnelly who is supporting an independent examination of the case.

Health Minister Simon Harris should "see who is required to guarantee the independence and expertise of any review", he added.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed yesterday the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) is carrying out an inspection of the country's maternity units for the first time. A spokesman said Hiqa is in the middle of an inspection programme of maternity services in public hospitals.

"To date we have completed 14 inspections and once the inspection programme is complete later this year, we will be publishing an overview report along with all the individual reports," he said.

Asked who is overseeing the operation of abortion services since the law came into force in January, a spokeswoman for the HSE said consultants within the hospital settings have clinical governance for the provision of the service to people under their care.

Feedback can be escalated to the relevant clinical director, hospital chief executive, and hospital group CEO to the National Women and Infant's Health Programme.

"As per the legislation, all providers of termination of pregnancy services must return a notification form per case to the Minister for Health on completion of a termination," the spokeswoman said.

She added the HSE is supporting the funding for the training of GPs. Service users can give feedback via the 'My Options' helpline or the HSE's 'Your Service Your Say'.

Irish Independent

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