All of the country's 19 maternity units are to be monitored by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa), it emerged yesterday.
However, it will be the latter part of this year before the plan for this surveillance is finalised, said Mary Dunnion, Hiqa's acting director of regulation.
Hiqa was appearing before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children to be quizzed about its highly critical report on Portlaoise Hospital.
Asked if Portlaoise is now safe she said: "Risk is inherent in all clinical services." It is essential women with complex pregnancies are transferred and the link-up with the Coombe hospital in Dublin is essential to this happening, she added.
Hiqa has concerns about services for patients needing complex surgery. She said the HSE commissioned its own review and found of the 6,000 operations carried out in Portlaoise annually just 49 were complex and this number was too small for surgeons to ensure competence. But Hiqa was disturbed to find the HSE did not act on its own findings.
Hiqa chief executive Phelim Quinn said it will be vital that there is the necessary political commitment to implement the recommendations of the report. This should not be left to the HSE and an oversight committee from the Department of Health needs to take charge, he indicated.