Doctors withdraw letter about bereaved mothers
A controversial document questioning the appointment of two women who lost babies in Portlaoise Hospital to a national maternity steering group has been withdrawn by the body representing obstetricians.
The Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which sent the complaints to Health Minister Leo Varadkar, has also revealed its chairman Prof Robert Harrison has resigned and will be replaced by former National Maternity Hospital master, Dr Peter Boylan.
The document sent on behalf of the Institute by Prof Harrison, a retired obstetrician, said it was dismayed at the make-up of the membership of the steering group which will draw up a national maternity strategy by the end of the year.
Prof Harrison canvassed the views of some obstetricians. One of the doctors questioned how Roisin Molloy and Shauna Keyes, who lost babies in Portlaoise and were appointed to the steering group by Mr Varadkar, could represent the views of patients "in a balanced way", given that both had "extremely unfavourable outcomes".
The document also complained that obstetricians were not properly represented on the 28-member group. It comprises three obstetricians and had no critical care specialists or anaesthetists.
This compared to nine people from a midwifery background and three lay people. It said the membership does "not reflect a fair balance of those who work in maternity services today".
The membership of the group was announced days before the publication of the damning HIQA report on Portlaoise Hospital. A maternity strategy was originally called for in 2013 in the report on Savita Halappanavar and is another key recommendation of the HIQA Portlaoise report.
Prof Harrison was not due to step down from his term as chairman of the institute until October. However, he resigned in recent days and the document has been withdrawn.
Dr Boylan said yesterday: "The institute is the representative body for obstetricians and gynaecologists in Ireland, encompassing consultants and trainees. A key role of the institute is to advocate for maternity services, and we see patients as partners in this endeavour."
He said the institute members are also committed to continue to work closely with their midwifery colleagues.
"Among the challenges currently facing maternity services are the recruitment and retention of staff, and bringing our specialist numbers up to international norms," he added.