Saturday 24 August 2019

Dozens of women vent anger over their ordeal at hands of HSE maternity services

Hospital agony: RTÉ urged to hand over recordings for investigation into healthcare

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Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

"Once again women not being believed" - Joe Duffy this week summed up the frustration felt by many as as he dealt with an overwhelming volume of calls telling of the distress some women experience while giving birth.

'Liveline' - the second most listened to radio programme after 'Morning Ireland' - had women phoning the programme all week wanting to share their stories on air.

Their powerful accounts told how they felt staff did not listen to them, feeling traumatised during labour and immediately afterwards, and of suffering immense pain, in some cases for years.

The women told the broadcaster they wanted to share their story as it may lead to better care and respect in our maternity services.

The women seemed to echo the words of Dr Gabriel Scally, who wrote in his report on the CervicalCheck scandal that women began to feel the awful attitudes towards them "were accounted for by paternalism in the health system".

One mother called Duffy's show to tell how her baby boy Lee had passed away shortly after birth: "I buried my son and about two weeks later I answered the phone. Someone said 'congratulations on the birth of your child, would you like to come to a parenting class?'

"My reply was: 'I buried my son two weeks ago'."

The woman also claimed that a hospital had kept some of her baby son's body parts after his death. She admitted signing a form shortly after his death which may have given her consent, but being in a state of trauma had not known what this was at the time.

Another mother said she'd been injured so badly during birth she couldn't stand, walk or hold her baby after birth.

"It was very hard to deal with, as a new mum you have no idea of what is normal and what is not," she said.

"I couldn't stand, hold or feed my baby and they (hospital staff) were at me to get out of my bed. I expressed concerns on numerous occasions on the state of my health and what was going on with me at that point and they (staff) kept saying it was normal.

"My sister expressed concern to (staff) and she was told if I have another €800, I could stay another night."

She told how when the public health nurse visited her at home shortly after, she was told she had suffered serious tears in her vaginal area.

The woman needed 14 different surgeries, and picked up a range of infections in hospital.

She told Duffy she had to give up her career, and struggled to care for her son as she was in and out of hospital.

"I got C-diff, I couldn't work, couldn't pay my bills, my son was quite ill from the birth. He had respiratory problems that weren't addressed. I had no dignity, there was a severe lack of care across the board."

Stephen McMahon, from the Irish Patients Association (IPA), has called for the HSE to open an investigation into the mountain of claims. "These women have been damaged and there's an onus on the HSE to investigate if we really want to repair our healthcare system as opposed to just looking for blame," he said.

During yesterday's programme, Duffy said: "Not since Versatis (the pain patches story) have we had such prolonged calls from people telling their stories."

Later during the programme, he said: "We have many more women we will not be able to get to today... and they're not talking about one hospital, that's the interesting thing - every part of the country is being mentioned.

"Deep apologies to so many people I won't be able to get to (talk to), who made the decision to talk about a traumatic event... for all of them the memories never go away."

The HSE said it was not in a position to comment, but directed anyone displeased with the services they had received to look at the Your Service, Your Say section on the HSE's website to detail complaints.

Irish Independent

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