Bereaved parents to benefit from new care standards

Parents whose child has died during pregnancy or before reaching full term are set to benefit from crucial new national standards in the wake of a series of scandals in the system.

Health Minister Simon Harris and HSE director general Tony O’Brien will launch the new “standards for bereavement care following pregnancy loss and perinatal death” at an event this morning in a bid to address a lack of uniformity in how families affected by the personal tragedies are treated by hospitals.

Under the current system, hospitals provide varying degrees of bereavement counselling to an estimated 14,500 grieving parents who have suffered a stillbirth or seen their child days moments after pregnancy.

However, under the new initiative, national standards will be introduced to ensure all parents affected get identical care including those who have been affected by a fatal foetal abnormality or who have travelled abroad for an abortion. The new standards have been devised in the wake of pregnancy tragedies, including last year’s Portlaoise Hospital crisis and the case taken by Amanda Mellet to the UN committee on human rights.

In the Portlaoise, Co Laois, cases a number of women complained of how they were treated after losing a baby, including one woman who was handed her child’s remains in a shoebox.

The Mellet case involved a woman who travelled to Britain to terminate her pregnancy due to a fatal foetal abnormality. After returning to Ireland, Ms Mellet sought bereavement counselling from the Rotunda Hospital but was refused. A UN report found the Irish woman had been subjected to discriminatory, cruel, and degrading treatment.


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