Consultanton leave for a year since baby death

A consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology who was placed on administrative leave more than a year ago following the death of a newborn at Cavan General Hospital has still not returned to work.

The HSE has confirmed that the doctor remains on administrative leave and has been replaced by a full-time locum consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology.

The doctor was put off duty with pay following the baby death while an investigation was under way.

The tragedy occurred less than three weeks after a baby boy died at the hospital amid reports that an emergency Caesarean section had been delayed. That case is also the subject of external review.

A third case, that of Jamie Flynn who died in his mother’s arms in November 2012, two days after his birth at Cavan General, is the subject of a third external review. An inquest into his death heard that an emergency C-section was delayed because there were no nursing staff to man the operating theatre at the time.

The issue of delayed access to theatre for women with life-threatening obstetric complications has been highlighted in a new report on Severe Maternal Morbidity (SMM). The 2012/2013 SMM annual report by the National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre (NPEC), an audit of SMM cases in the country’s 20 maternity units, found there were five cases where access to theatre was delayed for women suffering from a major obstetric haemorrhage. The approximate wait time ranged from 10 to 100 minutes.

Another baby died at Cavan General this week, bringing to four the number of newborns who have died at the hospital in the past 30 months.

Findings of any reviews have not been published in relation to any of the deaths. A report into the death of Jamie Flynn, from Navan, Co Meath, was completed and a commitment given that its recommendations would be “addressed in full”. However the report was quashed in the High Court. The HSE agreed to direct a new inquiry but so far no report has emerged.

Earlier this week Sinn Féin health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin called on Health Minister Leo Varadkar to ensure that promised reports are published and recommendations implemented to restore public confidence in the maternity services at Cavan.

Separately, parents of some of the babies who died at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise are set to appear before the Oireachtas Health Committee next Tuesday.

Mark and Róisín Molloy, parents of baby Mark who died in January 2012, and Ollie Kelly and Amy Delahunt, whose baby Mary Kate died in May 2013, are set to attend, as well as Patient Focus national co-ordinator Sheila O’Connor.

Their appearance next Tuesday morning before the committee follows the publication this week of a damning report by Hiqa, the health watchdog, into safety and quality of services at the midlands hospital. The report was prompted by an RTÉ Prime Time programme broadcast in January 2014, examining the tragic deaths of four newborn babies in Portlaoise Hospital and the subsequent management of patients and their families by the hospital and the HSE.

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