Portlaoise Hospital

Portlaoise Hospital

Local Election Candidate Fiona McLoughlin Healy welcomed calls made by Minister Jame Reilly and Fine Gael Party Chairman Charlie Flanagan in the wake of the Prime Time programme last night.  The Minister for Health, James Reilly has called for an investigation into the deaths of four infants born at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise over a four year period.

The HSE National Director of Quality and Patient Safety  has “apologised unreservedly” to the families of a number of babies who have died in recent years at Portlaoise hospital. Dr Philip Crowley, told RTE’s Prime Time programme: “I absolutely regret if any actions that we’ve taken in how we’ve either undertaken the investigations or dealt with the reports has added to people’s grief and I apologise unreservedly for that.”

The Fine Gael Party Chairman Charlie Flanagan has called for the HSE to respond fully to the issues raised in last night’s Prime Time investigates programme on the maternity unit at Portlaoise hospital.  He also offered his condolences to the families involved in this tragic and traumatic ordeal.

Speaking in Newbridge today Fiona McLoughlin Healy commented “RTE’s Prime Time programme last night about the baby deaths in Portlaoise Hospital was absolutely heart-breaking. When are we going to learn that treating women in labour as units of production; ideally delivering within 12 hours- is not acceptable?”

“This has been a concern of mine for many years and one which I previously highlighted in The Irish Daily Star as far back as 2010.”

Column in Daily Star – June 2010

“Expectant Mums continue to pay between 2500 and 5000 euro for private care in the expectation that it will mean better choice, control and continuity of care and a safer birth. Inadequate information means that many private patients are unaware of free, grant-aided or much less expensive alternative schemes capable of meeting their needs, in some cases much better than private care. As an ex-nurse with experience of working in UK maternity wards and as a mother of 3 children delivered privately in Ireland, I can attest to the fact that instead of choice and participation the experience of childbirth can be frighteningly passive and nothing short of archaic. In a maternity system which will deliver over 75,000 babies this year, public or private, you are little more a unit of production, ideally delivering within 12 hours.

Depending on where you live, more options are available. Ireland has only 2 midwife led units, based in Cavan general hospital and Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda. This free service includes delivery in a homely environment, with a familiar mid-wife and a choice of facilities from waterpools to bean bags. Early discharge is encouraged with follow up visits from your midwife. 

Holles Street, the Rotunda, Waterford and Wexford hospitals all provide community home birth schemes. Free of charge, a team of midwives provide antenatal care in the community and sometimes at home. The birth itself may happen either at home or in the hospital.

If you don’t have access to any of the services listed you have the option of a self-employed community midwife(SECM). They are partially funded to the tune of €2,400 by the HSE. Your SECM may charge more for travel or any additional services. VHI, Quinn Health, Vivas all give grants towards the cost of homebirths. Ensure that you register with your local maternity hospital in case you or your baby need to transfer in.

Ireland is the 6th safest country in the world in which to have a baby. However, safety shouldn’t come at the expense of a positive, active pregnancy and birth. A HSE commissioned review of Ireland’s two midwife led units in Drogheda and Cavan hospitals reported that outcomes were as good as consultant led services and Mums were much happier too.”

Fiona further commented “I welcome comments made by Minister Reilly and Deputy Flanagan”.