Monday 18 December 2017

Full inquiry into maternity unit at Cavan Hospital 'not warranted' at this stage - Leo Varadkar

Health Minister Leo Varadkar is meeting grieving parents of those affected by newborn deaths in Portlaoise
Health Minister Leo Varadkar is meeting grieving parents of those affected by newborn deaths in Portlaoise
Lise Hand

Lise Hand

Health Minister Leo Varadkar said today that a full inquiry into maternity services at Cavan General Hospital is “not warranted” at this stage.

A HSE investigation is underway at the hospital following the death of a newborn baby yesterday, bringing to four the number of infants to die there over a 30-month period.

Extending his condolences to the family involved, Minister Varadkar said, “I don’t think at this stage a specific investigation into Cavan is warranted, until we actually have more information on these cases.” He added that this latest death happened during caesarian section. during Caesarean section. “It’s very uncommon and that’s why an individualised investigation will be required for this case,” he said. “What HIQA’s been asked to do is to include Cavan in their regular monitoring exercise of maternity care units and they’re going to do that.”

Read more here: Probe as baby dies at Cavan hospital  

The Health Minister was speaking as he arrived at Portlaoise General Hospital in the wake of a publication of a damning report into patient safety at the hospital, to meet with management, staff and also later this evening with bereaved parents whose babies died at Portlaoise Hospital in recent years.

Criticising the hospital, he said “it was allowed to drift without a clear strategic direction for quite a number of years. The major flaw in this region going back decades is the fact that one single regional hospital with a catchment area of half a million people wasn’t developed. That should’ve happened, but didn’t happen”.

Read more here: Taoiseach Enda Kenny 'empathises' with parents of baby who died at Cavan General Hospital yesterday 

However, he insisted that the maternity hospital is now safe. “This hospital has a new manager, a director of midwifery for the first time, it’s part of the Dublin-Midlands hospital group, it has nearly 20 additional midwives and more consultants, so I wouldn’t like anyone to think for a second that nothing has happened and nothing has improved in this hospital in recent years.”

He also confirmed that two nurses and two doctors have been referred to the nurses and midwifery board and to the medical council.

Read more here: HIQA 'not asked' to investigate four baby deaths at Cavan General Hospital 

However Minister Varadkar also slammed some trade unions which have claimed that the difficulties at maternity hospitals are caused by insufficient resources. “I think it’s disappointing and disheartening in my view that every time there is a problem in our health service, within hours there is somebody from a trade union on the radio, claiming we need additional resources,” he said.

He added that while he accepted additional resources are required in the health service, “it isn’t always down to resources, and I think when people don’t know the facts of the case and default to resources as an excuse, they’re actually doing patient safety a disservice,” he said.

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