Enda Kenny vows maternity service reform a ‘priority’

Malak Thawley died in Holles Street on May 8.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted reforming the country’s’ maternity services remains a “priority” for the new Government, despite three tragic deaths emerging in the past week and revelations that reports into three other incidents have yet to be published.

He stressed improving maternity care is central to his party’s plans while in office after coming under pressure from the opposition over the scandals.

Speaking at Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil yesterday, Mr Kenny was asked by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin if expectant parents can still have faith in the public maternity services they depend on.

The opposition leader said while he accepted “the vast majority of pregnancies in Ireland are safe and uneventful”, the reality is the deaths of two newborn babies at Cavan General Hospital in the past week and news a woman also lost her life in Dublin’s Holles Street Hospital on May 8 underline issues which have yet to be resolved.

Questioning whether the controversies are receiving enough attention from those in power, Mr Martin said three internal reports into deaths of babies at Cavan General have yet to be published despite occurring in 2014 and 2015 — and noted similar crises in Portlaoise and Portiuncula have also occurred in recent years.

Accusing Mr Kenny of failing families in need, Mr Martin said there is a need for “external reviews of these issues to provide certainty” over what happened and guarantees the tragedies will not be repeated.

“We have had many warnings and reports, but no comprehensive action has been taken to deal with the resourcing of our maternity hospitals,” he said.

Responding to the situation, Mr Kenny insisted maternity services reform remains a key priority for the new Government and stressed improvements are taking place in the system.

“When deaths occur, either at birth or in giving birth, it is always a source of stress and tragedy for the families involved.

“I assure you, the safety and quality of maternity services is a priority and will remain so for the Government and for the minister for health,” he said.

Pointing to last year’s publication of Ireland’s first national maternity strategy, which is particularly focussed on neonatal care and addressing a series of country-wide issues in the system, the Taoiseach said he expects improvements to be made to ensure recent tragedies are not repeated.

It emerged this week that two newborn babies died at Cavan General Hospital in the past week and Holles Street is investigating the death of Malak Thawley while undergoing surgery for an ectopic pregnancy on May 8.


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