Monday 16 September 2019

'You're losing the future of your child' – parents criticise treatment by staff at Holles Street after death of baby

The National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street
The National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street

Gabija Gataveckaite

The parents of a child who died less than an hour after birth say that they were poorly treated by hospital staff and received little aftercare.

Nicola Cox and Ross Coghlan lost their son Luke on December 29th, 2016, in Holles Street Maternity Hospital in Dublin.

Speaking this morning on the Sean O’Rourke Show, they explained that they had some difficulty with staff when trying to get answers for their son's untimely death.

“As a mother you want to know what happened to your child,” Ms Cox said on RTE Radio One.

They said that they also had trouble arranging a post-mortem examination for their son.

A nurse came into their ward and requested to take the child for the post-mortem, declining requests from Ms Cox to wait “just five minutes” for the parents to say goodbye to Luke.

“We said ‘can we just say goodbye and take one more look at him as he is, as he’s perfect?’ ” she said.

“We literally just want five minutes and we were told no, the pathologist is ready for him.”

“We were like, ‘this is crazy, just let us say goodbye to our child’ and it was so abrupt and horrible,” added Mr Coughlan.

The couple also ran had an issue when attempting to leave the hospital with their child.

Mr Coghlan explained that they were asked to leave through an alley which was full of “dog faeces” near the mortuary.

“I was kind of going ‘I can’t bring Nicola through this door, she’s already going through an awful lot’ and I really don’t think that it’s respectful to take my baby out here,” he said.

“The alley was full of dog faeces, graffiti, broken glass it was just it felt like our baby had been hidden away,” said Ms Cox.

“We had real trouble trying to ask them to let us to go out the front door as opposed to letting us bring him out in an alley full of dirt,” she added.

“The hospital could have been aware, and should have been aware, of how harrowing that is for a parent for a child to be treated like a piece of trash basically,” she said.

Ms Cox said that she still cannot face driving past the hospital and had panic attacks when she had to return to it.

“I did go subsequently back to Holles St for follow up appointments - I went in on my own,” she remembered.

“I remember just having panic attacks walking in. And I think I’m quite a robust enough person, but even with that I really struggled and I remember collapsing on the stairs,” she explained.

“And I couldn’t even say my own name, a member of staff didn’t know what to do with me.”

Ms Cox and Mr Coughlan eventually found out the cause of Luke's death following an inquest. According to the Irish Times, he died "due to the effects of placental disease".

The parents said that there needs to be more conversation about losing neo-natal children.

“I don’t think people realise the significance of losing a child a neo-natal death or a still birth or a miscarriage. It’s exceptionally tough on people and I think that its treated very differently to losing anyone else,” Ms Cox said.

“As a mother, you’re also losing the future of your child,” she said.

The parents said that they went back to the hospital a fortnight ago and met with the Master of the hospital to discuss their experiences.

“Now people are going to be given an option of whether they wish to go out the front door or not and to us that is a massive step forward,” said Ms Cox.

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