A review of maternity services at Portiuncula hospital has been extended to cover a seven year period, stretching back to 2008, it has emerged.
The review which was announced after a number of babies died and others were left seriously deprived of oxygen will being within weeks and is expected to take five months to complete.
The time frame for the review was announced as the independent team which will carry out the process at Portiuncula Hospital was today revealed.
The nine-strong review team will be chaired by James Walker, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Leeds and will include a number of experts in midwifery and gynaecology who have worked in some of the country’s top hospitals.
It will conduct a review of maternity services at the Ballinsaloe hospital focusing on a number of “adverse perinatal events” between 2008 and November 2014.
The original review had been due to focus on just seven cases which occurred in 2014, however, it was subsequently widened after a number of other affected families came forward.
A spokesperson for the group said the overall number of cases to be included had not yet been finalised.
“This investigation will encompass reviewing the care of the cases identified in the preliminary review and a number of additional cases. The total number has yet to be finalised as engagement is ongoing with the women/families of those who have expressed concerns about their care,” he said.
He added that all these cases will be either included in this investigation or addressed through other processes, such as separate independent reviews or the complaints process.
The case reviews will involve a detailed review of individual cases to identify any key causal and contributory factors and make recommendations to address these factors, the group states.
In addition, this review will include a full review of maternity care at Portiuncula Hospital Ballinasloe. This review will commence in the coming weeks and is expected to take five months.
The statement stressed that regular re-audits at the maternity unit at Portiuncula Hospital have confirmed that there is no continuing patient safety concern arising from the issues identified.
“There have been no negative perinatal outcomes at Portiuncula Hospital Ballinasloe since the enhanced monitoring measures were put in place.
“Saolta University Health Care Group- Portiuncula Hospital Ballinasloe regret any distress that is being caused to the families involved and offers any services that they may require to support them in dealing with the issues that arise,” he added.
The review team will consist of Prof Walker along with eight others including experts in midwifery and gynaecology who worked in Holles St, the Coombe, the Rotunda, Cork University Maternity hospital and the South Eastern Trust in Belfast.
The group will consist of Ms Rachel Conaty, former Assistant Director of Midwifery and Nursing at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dublin, Prof Sean Daly, former head of perinatal medicine at the Coombe hospital, Prof Eugene Dempsey, Consultant Neonatologist at Cork University Maternity Hospital and Professor of Paediatrics at University College Cork, Dr Adrienne Foran, Consultant Neonatologist, Rotunda Hospital, obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Paul Hughes and Dr Elaine Madden, head of Midwifery and Gynaecology at the South Eastern Trust (Belfast).
It will also include Ms Breda Shiel Kerans, a service user representative on the Maternity Services Steering Group and Ms Cora McCaughan, Head of the HSE National incident Management and Learning Team.
“The review team will be supported by trained investigators who will carry out the individual systems analyses: these will be identified from staff in the other HSE hospital groups,” the statement added.