Three very sick babies, one less than a week old, had to be transferred between hospitals in the back of a taxi, the HSE admitted last night.
The transfers from University Maternity Hospital Limerick to University Hospital Limerick were necessary due to lack of care facilities in the under-pressure neo-natal unit at the maternity hospital, the HSE said.
Two other babieswere transferred to University Hospital Cork in incubators by ambulance.
A mother of one of the babies transfered between the two Limerick hospitals, travelled in another taxi, as there was no room for her to be with her newborn in the taxi summoned by the HSE.
A midwife travelled in the taxi with the babies.
Julieann Devane, a friend of the mother, said: “It is shocking. The baby was very, very sick and she was told the baby had to be moved to Dooradoyle (UHL) as they could not cope at the maternity neo-natal unit. They put her baby with two others into the back of a taxi, along with a nurse and she had to travel behind in another taxi. To make matters worse, she was told there was a winter vomiting bug alert at UHL. She was worried about what kind of baby safety measures were in that taxi if it was in a collision. Thankfully, the baby is much improved.”
A HSE spokesperson last night said University Maternity Hospital Limerick had an increase in clinical activity in the neo-natal unit over the past week, with a high number of babies needing ventilator support.
“As a temporary measure, in order to ensure the safe care of our premature and very low birthweight babies, University Maternity Hospital Limerick temporarily transferred two babies to another neo-natal facility in Cork University Hospital by incubator in an ambulance.
“The babies have since been transferred back to University Maternity Hospital Limerick by incubator in an ambulance. In addition, last week three babies were transferred to the paediatric unit at University Hospital Limerick via taxi, accompanied by a midwife,” the spokesperson said.
“The chosen means of transport for babies is determined by the clinical condition of the baby, is approved by the consultant and is in line with University Maternity Hospital intra-hospital transfer of neo-nates policy.”
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