Varadkar: HIQA inquiry into Cavan hospital 'not warranted'

Varadkar: HIQA inquiry into Cavan hospital 'not warranted'

Health Minister Leo Varadkar said today that a full inquiry by HIQA into maternity services at Cavan General Hospital is not warranted.

A HSE investigation is underway after the death of another newborn at the hospital yesterday.

The HSE inquiry will examine the deaths of four babies who died at the hospital over a 30-month period.

Minister Varadkar spoke ahead of his visit at Portlaoise Hospital this afternoon. He is also meeting with bereaved parents later this evening.

He said that the baby who died at Cavan yesterday was delivered by Caesarean Section.

“It’s very uncommon, in fact, and that’s why an individualised investigation will be required for this case,” he said.

“What HIQA’s been asked to do is to include Cavan in their regular monitoring exercise of maternity care units, and they are going to do that.

“I don’t think, at this stage, a specific investigation into Cavan is warranted until we actually have more information on these cases.”

A mother who lost her baby in Cavan in 2014 said that the HSE needs to change from the top down.

'Mary' would have been celebrating her son's first birthday today.

“No-one can even imagine the pain it leaves behind, and the devastation,” she said.

“You have to walk in those shoes to fully understand it, and sadly we’re learning that lesson now.

“It’s mind-boggling to think that, 12 months on, it’s still happening, and how things need to be changed so badly within the HSE.

“I firmly believe from management down, things have to be rectified.”

HIQA confirmed today that it did not launch its own independent inquiry into newborn deaths at Cavan hospital despite public calls last May by former Health Minister James Reilly.

A spokesman for the watchdog said no formal request was made by Government.

“We were not asked to,” the spokesman said.

Earlier today, Taoiseach Enda Kenny admitted that there are “inadequacies” in the country's system of maternity services.

He made the comments in the Dáil in the wake of what he called a damning, clear, dark and disturbing report into management of Portlaoise Hospital, following the deaths of eight babies and the death of a child at Cavan General Hospital yesterday.

The Taoiseach and other political leaders have expressed sympathy with the family of the baby that died in Cavan.

Mr Kenny says it is imperative that the recommendations of the HIQA report are implemented across all maternity services.

“The bluntness of the HIQA report brings into stark focus the inadequacies of a system that has grown over the years and that now has been adjusted so that people can feel comfortable and happy that our maternity units have the safest standards that can apply for expectant mothers to give birth to their babies,” he said.

A former Master at the National Maternity Hospital says maternity services need to be rationalised in Ireland.

Dr Peter Boylan says an audit should be carried out at all maternity hospitals around the country.

Varadkar: HIQA inquiry into Cavan hospital 'not warranted'

“The World Health Organisation has recommended an international basis for comparison of maternity outcomes - that system needs to be implemented nationwide in this country," he said.

“It's been endorsed by the WHO, it's used in many, many countries around the world, and we need to implement that.

“It will highlight problems and then we'll be able to identify where resources are lacking or where they're aren't problems.”

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