THE death rate for Irish babies around the time of birth is nearly twice that of the safest country in Europe, according to a new report.
Ireland's perinatal mortality rate is 5.9 per 1,000 births – but it is 3.2 in Finland, which has the best record of the 24 countries.
Overall, Ireland had the 15th lowest death rate among the 24 countries that participated in the study.
The report also looks at progress made in implementing the recommendations on safety arising out of the Savita Halappanavar tragedy. The progress report was carried out by an implementation group from the HSE and the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).
Statistics on maternal deaths – where the mother dies due to complications as a result of pregnancy or childbirth – showed that the rate over three years in Ireland was 8 per 100,000 births but in Sweden it is five per 100,000.
The report tracks the headway made in progressing recommendations arising out of investigations into the death of Savita in late 2012 in University Hospital Galway.
She was 17 weeks' pregnant and admitted to hospital after being told she would miscarry. She died a week later from sepsis which was not caught in time. Her death led to an inquest and independent reviews.
The report said monthly reports on the implementation plan were now being given to Galway hospital group chief executive Bill Maher and the board.
It is also changing its governance early this year to end the system whereby there is cross committee membership while also ensuring there is clarity around responsibility and accountability.
Roles and responsibilities for following up tests and investigations are being clearly outlined. This is particularly important in the light of delays in following up on a blood test taken from Savita.
Guidance on the management of sepsis is being developed by a National Working Group with input from an expert on this illness, in which the body has a severe response to bacteria or other germs.
The guidance is due to be circulated early this year. A sepsis screening tool has been developed and possible signs of the illness are now incorporated into the patient observation chart.
All staff in hospitals in the west have undergone training in sepsis and have undertaken a structured training programme in obstetric emergencies.