Monday 17 June 2019

Dad’s relief at maternal inquest Bill

A Dromore West father whose wife died one day after giving birth has said the latest progress on making maternal inquests mandatory will help families get the answers they need.

Seán Rowlette, whose wife Sally passed away at Sligo University Hospital on 5th February 2013 after giving birth to their fourth child Sally, told The Sligo Champion the Government's Coroners (Amendment) Bill will help to save lives.

Speaking about the work done in reaching the point where the Bill has been passed in the Dáil, and now goes to the Seanad, Seán said it is thanks to lobbying done by a group called The Elephant Collective, local councillors, such as Michael Clarke and TDs, especially Dublin Fingal TD, Clare Daly and Eamon Scanlon.

The Elephant Collective is made up of individuals and groups who have been affected by or have concerns over maternal deaths in Ireland.

Daly has campaigned for mandatory maternal inquests since she was elected to the Dáil in 2011 and introduced a Private Members' Bill in 2015 to make inquests mandatory. Its provisions are reflected in the Government's Coroners (Amendment) Bill.

"After Sally died I had to come home with a two week old baby, and mind my three other kids and start fighting to look for answers. Dealing with solicitors and coroners, there was so much to deal with. It's stress you can do without."

He added, "When you do get the inquest you find the faults, you find the mistakes and you fix them. It's by knowing what was wrong you can fix the problem then. Or if it happens again you'll know what to do".

For Seán and his family it took 15 months to get an inquest into Sally's death.

"It felt like forever...At least now families will know they will get an inquest and this [Bill] gives the coroner more power, they can get any information they want from the hospital."

The Bill also seeks to ensure legal aid is given to the families of the deceased.

Seán can attest to the financial stress of fighting for a maternal inquest.

"There is a huge cost involved and that's more stress you don't need." Seán hopes the Bill will mean the process for families getting answers will become more swift.

"Time is crucial. There are mistakes made and the sooner you learn about those mistakes the sooner they can be fixed.

Seán said the more information that comes from inquests the better."I've had people contact me after Sally's inquest. One man said his daughter is alive as a result of what they read in the inquest. His daughter had developed HELLP syndrome (a severe form of pre-eclampsia) and they were calling the shots.

The inquest has saved lives and has educated people"

Sligo Champion