The father of a newborn boy who died at Portlaoise Hospital three years ago has called on Health Minister Leo Varadkar to order a public inquiry into infant deaths at the hospital.
Mark and Roisín Molloy were among a number of bereaved parents who met with Mr Varadkar yesterday.
Speaking on RTÉ radio, Mr Molloy said the minister needs to clearly set out a plan following the publication by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) of a report critical of maternity services at the hospital.
“I hope people who maybe haven’t had a direct voice to the minister for now get some answers themselves and I hope the minister doesn’t just use this as a PR exercise,” Mr Molloy said.
“I don’t think he will, in fairness to him. When I’ve met him, he seems genuinely concerned by this.
“But I hope he clearly sets out for people and puts their minds at ease about how he intends to deal with this thing going forward. It needs to be sorted out now, once and for all.”
Mr Molloy added: “I think it might have to be an independent inquiry into what’s happening. Hiqa brought in a team and most were from outside the State and didn’t pull any punches.”
Mr Molloy said the investigation into the death of his son, who was also called Mark, involved people from within the country. “I believe there was a collegiate approach to Mark’s investigation where we got limited answers in the end and some important pieces were left out,” he said.
“So we would need somebody from outside the State to carry out an independent investigation. I think the open disclosure legislation is vitally important and the final part then is to ensure confidence in the health service going forward.”
Mr Molloy said he wants a clear plan of action to deal with safety and standards at Portlaoise Hospital. He also called for the setting up of a patient safety division with investigative powers similar to those of the Revenue Commissioners. “You would need to fear the auditors coming in or certainly keep you on your toes,” he said.
He explained that all the circumstances surrounding his son’s death have not been fully revealed to the couple.
“Mark was our fifth boy and he was nine days overdue when Roisín went into labour. She was due to be induced that morning but she went into labour a few hours earlier. Labour progressed quickly but Mark got stuck.
“He was facing up instead of facing down and foetal distress was not recognised on the CTG trace and eventually there was an emergency section. After Mark was born, they tried to bring him back. He had a very faint heartbeat and he was pronounced dead after 22 minutes.
“At that stage, myself and Roisín immediately started asking questions and we continue to ask questions to this day, which is almost three-and-a-half years later.”
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