28% of all birth incidents in Saolta hospitals – Naughten

In East Galway, Health by Denis Naughten

Portiuncula review must investigate group management

Denis Naughton TDDenis Naughten TD has today (Wednesday) called on the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, to ensure that the inquiry at Portiuncula Hospital is extended following the disclosure that 28% of all birth specific maternity incidents nationally, happened in the 5 maternity hospitals in the West/North West Hospital Group.

Figures obtained by Katie Hannon of RTE’s Prime Time show that it accounts for 28% of all birth specific maternity incidents recorded nationally, between 1st January 2009 and 31st December 2014. (even though the West/North West has just 15% of births)

“On a positive note, the number of incidents recorded in 2013 & 2014, following the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar, was down on previous years, but over the 6 year period, the West & North West Hospitals recorded the second highest rate of birth incidents”.

“There is no doubt that this was at the very least, a factor which lead to a letter by the Director of Midwifery in July 2013, to senior hospital group management expressing serious concern regarding the staffing of some of the hospitals in the group”.

 “The correspondence went on to state that funding was also needed to appoint midwifery trainers across all of the maternity hospitals in the Group – Galway University, Portiuncula, Mayo General, Sligo General and Letterkenny General. The communication circulated to the three most senior managers of the Hospital Group said that ‘these are important appointments to ensure recommendations and learnings are applied from recent reports’.”

“Yet, it seems, this request, and others, fell on deaf ears, similar to Portlaoise, where HIQA, have been critical of resourcing and overall management of the maternity services at the hospital”.

“The inquiry at Portiuncula must now seek to find out what actions, if any, where taken by Saolta management when they were made aware of staffing, supervision and training concerns by both staff and midwifery management,” stated Denis Naughten.

“Therefore, I believe that it is wrong that the same management have appointed the inquiry team and will receive its draft conclusions”.

“Not only must the inquiry be extended, it must also report directly to Minister Varadkar and not to those with questions to answer”.

 “The parents at the centre of this inquiry, and the many more implicated in the 3285 birth specific maternity incidents over the last 6 years in the West/North West deserve the full truth of what happened in their cases and this can only happen with an inquiry into the actions, if any, which management took when concerns were brought to their attention,” concluded Denis Naughten.