Anger and grief as bereaved parents tell Health Minister about Portlaoise Hospital

Anger and grief as bereaved parents tell Health Minister about Portlaoise Hospital

Bereaved parents who met with the Health Minister last night say they want to see further changes at Portlaoise Hospital.

Eighty families told Leo Varadkar their stories of baby deaths and adverse incidents at the maternity unit, going back as far as 1986.

A Hiqa report last week found it could not definitively say the hospital was safe.

Shauna Keyes, whose baby Joshua died at Portlaoise in 2009, said that lessons must be learned.

“There’s a lot of anger, there’s a lot of grief, but there’s a lot of support for one another in there, which is great too,” she said.

“I don’t think anyone expected to hear the stories that we heard going in there today and we’re all going to walking out a little bit mentally scarred, to be honest.

“It’s terrible to think that these things happened and that nobody knew of them.

“Thankfully they’re out in the open now and there’s no way they can sit on this or let this report become a barricade for us.”

Frances Kiely was not happy with some parts of the meeting, saying that she was made to feel like a statistic.

“We've been told 2,000 cases go into the maternity every year and a lot of people are really happy with the service,” she said.

“That was very insulting for them to day that. I just found it very insulting because not all of us have had that lovely experience - we have had a horrible time.

“We've lost children and some people who have had their children have horrible disabilities and everything.”

The Chairperson for the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children says the recent HIQA report on Portlaoise Hospital is “deeply distressing”.

Jerry Buttimer said the report would suggest that patient safety “was not a priority”.

Minister Varadkar will today appear before the Committee to discuss the findings and the outcome of last night's meeting at Portlaoise where he spoke to some of the bereaved parents.

Separately, the Committee has agreed to host a series of stand-alone meetings in relation to patient safety at Portlaoise and other Irish hospitals.

Mr Buttimer says there are still a number of questions to be answered.

“The report is deeply distressing and the committee will be asking relevant questions to the HSE to account for the deficiencies in the report

“If one was to listen to Hiqa at our committee, you would suggest that patient safety was not treated as a priority which does then give us significant concerns.

“So therefore we must ensure that patient safety is paramount.”

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