Portiuncula investigation must be independent & seen to be so – Naughten

In East Galway, Health by Denis Naughten

Denis Naughten TD, has welcomed the announcement of an independent investigation into baby deaths, and a spike in the number of babies born in Portiuncula Hospital, where there was evidence of oxygen deprivation during delivery.

However, Deputy Naughten stated that he was disappointed that the parents of the babies involved, are finding out about the inquiry through the media & not from the management of the Hospital Group.

The internal review by the Saoilte Hospital Group commenced 50 days ago and it is totally unacceptable that, only now, are the parents involved, being contacted. Surely, these parents have gone through enough trauma without having to read & hear about the inquiry before formal contact is made by the inquiry team.

The local TD also cautioned that not only must the investigation be independent, it is imperative that it is transparent, & seen to be independent of other medical agendas.

Last year, the Saoilta Hospital Group was forced to withdraw a plan which would have seen the maternity unit at Portiuncula Hospital, closed.

Therefore, in the interest of the parents involved, the staff at the hospital & parents about to use the service, this investigation must be solely focused on what happened and what can be done to reduce the possibility of such serious incidents happening again.

For those parents planning to avail of maternity services in Portiuncula, it is important to stress that the expected rate for neonatal encephalopathy, where a newborn’s neurological function is disturbed, is two per 1,000 births. The rate in Portiuncula last year was three. In 2013, there were two such incidents.

Furthermore, following an external review by Galway University Hospital, the Hospital Group is satisfied that there is no continuing patient safety concern arising from the issues identified.