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Frustration at delay in setting up investigation into abortion case


The National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street

The National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street

The National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street

The amount of time being taken to appoint an investigation team to examine the tragic abortion case at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street was criticised yesterday.

Caoimhe Haughey, solicitor for the couple at the centre of the case, said she was very disappointed more progress had not been made by now.

It emerged recently that in March a couple made the agonising decision to have a termination after a test showed their unborn baby had a fatal foetal abnormality and would not survive.

However, the results of a second test showed the baby was healthy.

Experts from the Royal College of Obstetricians are due to be appointed to examine the circumstances of the case.

However, Ms Haughey said yesterday that "at this stage we still do not know if the Royal College will do so".

She added: "It is not clear if they are in a position to undertake an investigation and secondly if they are willing to do so."

Terms of reference for the investigation have yet to be drawn up and the couple want to have an input into its details.

The full extent of the result of the second test only became clear after a genetics specialist explained the upsetting finding to them after they had sought his expertise privately.

The distraught couple had been told in black and white terms there was no hope for their unborn baby in March.

This followed the results of the first test involving Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) showed their baby had trisomy 18, known as Edwards syndrome.

The abortion was carried out by the hospital based on the information from the first test.

But the more detailed lab investigation which was returned after the termination later revealed the baby was clear of abnormalities.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Simon Harris said the legal agreement overseeing the running of the new National Maternity Hospital, to be built on the site of St Vincent's hospital, has yet to be finalised.

He said he remains committed to the development of a new maternity hospital on the St Vincent's campus.

"This is vital for women and babies in Ireland in terms of the co-location of a maternity hospital with an acute adult hospital," he said.

"It will represent the flagship project of the national maternity strategy and constitute the largest single investment ever made in maternity services."

The new development will cater for up to 10,000 births a year and include state-of-the-art obstetrics, neonatal and gynaecology care facilities.

"Following the granting of planning permission, the design team is continuing to work on the detailed design of the hospital and the preparation of tender documents," Mr Harris said.

The agreement needs to be finalised and brought to Government before any of that progresses. The legal agreement is pending finalisation and it could see a lease or a licence of a site granted at a nominal or peppercorn rent.

Alternatively, there could be a lien to protect the State's investment.

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