A MOTHER whose baby died from lack of oxygen at Portlaoise Hospital three years ago has warned the independent investigation into standards of care in its maternity unit must be published without delay in the interests of patient safety.
Roisin and Mark Molloy, Kilcavan, Co Offaly, who lost their son Mark within 22 minutes of his birth in January 2012, said they were forced to go public after they had brought their case to senior managers in the Health Service Executive (HSE) and failed to get answers.
"Patient safety has to come first. I appreciate everyone has a right to defend themselves but the investigation report has to be published in the public interest," said Mrs Molloy said.
She was speaking after it emerged the HSE has threatened to take legal action against the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) after it claimed it was not allowed to respond to allegations in the draft investigation report made against senior managers in its corporate division.
The investigation began last year after the Department of Health said the Portlaoise maternity unit was unsafe following a series of baby deaths since 2006 where the infants suffered lack of oxygen.
Mrs Molloy said: "At the time we called for all levels of the HSE to be looked at. It had to go beyond local level. It is essential there is proper analysis of how executives at the most senior level responded to serious incidents and what their actions were when we drew attention to our concerns about Portlaoise."
The HIQA draft report is believed to highlight under-funding of the hospital as well as how the changing management structures at HSE corporate level impacted on the monitoring of the hospital.
It is understood that in the course of the investigation, HIQA interviewed around 80 families who came forward.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar said yesterday he did not want to see one State body taking legal action against another.
The HSE said when a draft report was given to its director general Tony O'Brien in early February, it contained factual inaccuracies and lacked context and balance.
It did not substantiate findings against some HSE staff.
The staff did not receive documentation to allow them respond. It wrote to HIQA several times seeking a meeting as well as more documentation.
When it did not respond the HSE threatened legal action. The two bodies now have reached agreement on a process.
Dr Susan Reilly, who is head of the hospital group which includes Portlaoise, said a range of safety measures are now in place in the maternity unit.
All midwives have training in foetal monitoring, an additional obstetrician has been appointed and it has new management.
Ten more nurses were also hired.