Saturday 20 January 2018

Widower calls for inquiry into maternity deaths

Sean Roulette arriving at Sligo Court for the inquest into the death of 36 year old Sally Rowlette from Dromore West, Co. Sligo, who died during childbirth at Sligo Regional Hospital
Sean Roulette arriving at Sligo Court for the inquest into the death of 36 year old Sally Rowlette from Dromore West, Co. Sligo, who died during childbirth at Sligo Regional Hospital

Greg Harkin

A man whose wife died after giving birth to their fourth child has called for a national inquiry into deaths in regional maternity hospitals after the Health Service Executive launched an investigation into the deaths of 30 babies.

Sally Rowlette (36) died at Sligo Regional Hospital in February 2013 from a severe form of pre-eclampsia.

She died 18 months after the death of Dhara Kivlehan, who was also treated at Sligo Regional Hospital.

Widower Sean Rowlette said revelations in the Sunday Independent yesterday that the HSE is investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 30 babies at regional hospitals had left him "absolutely shocked". He says he wants to form a support group for all those bereaved through deaths in maternity units.

"It is now clear that there are serious issues in our regional hospitals and in our maternity units," said Mr Rowlette. "There are so many families now who have lost loved ones, that something has to be done about it.

"I'm hoping to meet some of the parents who have lost children; we need to come together to put pressure on the HSE and the Government to do something about this."

Support group Patient Focus has passed 180 complaints to a special review panel set up by the HSE to examine them on a case by case basis.

Complaints

They included complaints about 82 babies who died at birth. Some of the deaths are historic, some date back five to 10 years, and not all are attributed to hospital failures, according to Patient Focus.

However according to the Sunday Independent, as many as 30 of those baby deaths have been singled out for further investigation, by the panel that includes obstetrician Peter Boylan and senior HSE officials.

Roger Murray, a solicitor who has represented the Rowlettes and Kivlehans as well as mothers who lost children after giving birth, welcomed the role of Mr Boylan in the review.

However, he said there are "systemic failures" in the country's regional hospitals.

"Mr Boylan made this clear in his expert evidence at the Rowlette and Kivlehan inquests," said Mr Murray.

"So many of our young consultants are leaving Ireland to go to Australia and America and we are hiring consultants from overseas to come to our regional hospitals and, as Mr Boylan, said some of them are simply not up to scratch."

He said the review of maternity services should be "open and transparent", adding: "Every single family we see wants one thing, the truth."

Meanwhile, the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services Ireland (AIMS Ireland) released a survey of nearly 3,000 women showing half of those who had tests done hadn't the implications of procedures explained to them.

Only 50pc felt able to make an informed refusal.

Irish Independent

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