A number of home births in the mid west are to go ahead for women at advanced stage of pregnancy despite the suspension of the service in the region following a tragic death, campaigners have said.
Chair of the Association for the Improvement of Maternity Services (AIMS) Krysia Lynch was speaking after the death of Laura Liston who died during a home birth in Dunnaman, Croom in Limerick on June 5. Her son survived. A review of the circumstances is now underway.
The organisation also said Ms Liston was the third woman to die in Ireland’s maternity services in recent weeks.
Ms Lynch said: “We were pleased to learn from a number of women in the mid west that their home births are going ahead as planned and that, should they need to transfer to hospital care, they will transfer University Maternity Hospital Limerick as planned."
“AIMS Ireland expresses our deepest condolences to the families of the three women whom we understand have died in our maternity services in recent weeks.
“Service users must be assured that our maternity services are safe and fit for purpose, and we would welcome an independent external review in all cases of maternal death in Ireland as well as the public inquests which are now mandatory.”
Ms Lynch said it was vital that families are provided with accountability and transparency.
“We are devastated to learn of three recent maternal deaths in our maternity services, and we extend our deepest condolences to all the families and care givers involved,” Ms Lynch said.
She said campaigners were surprised by the statement from University Maternity Hospital Limerick, “which stated that home birth services in the mid west had been suspended as a result of one tragedy, given there is no evidence whatsoever to indicate that this care pathway was a factor”.
"We note no suspension of service has been announced with respect to two maternal deaths which occurred in hospitals around the same time,” Ms Lynch said.
She added: "Home birth in Ireland has repeatedly been shown to be as safe as hospital care, and by some metrics safer. As such, it is a cornerstone of the National Maternity Strategy 2016, championed by current Tánaiste Leo Varadkar during his time as Minister of Health.
“Irish maternity services are very limited with respect to choice, and we support all efforts to increase the range of high quality, safe services on offer to all expectant women, and that includes the maintenance of our national home birth service across the country.”
The HSE said it could not comment on individual cases when it “may breach the ethical requirement on us to observe our duty of confidentiality”.
On behalf of UHLG, the HSE said: “We can confirm that we have temporarily suspended the home birth service in the MidWest following a recent maternal death. The staff of UL Hospitals Group and of the home birth service would like to extend profound sympathies to the family involved on their devastating loss.
“We have commissioned an external review of the home birth service in the MidWest. A group of external experts, including those with midwifery and obstetrics expertise, is being assembled to conduct the review; looking at patient safety, clinical governance and any other issues arising.
“We have made contact with the small number of women in the region who were due to have home births in the coming months in relation to continuing their care.”