HSE under fire over midwife probe

Health Minister Leo Varadkar has met with the homebirth midwife who has been the subject of a long-running controversial HSE probe.

Philomena Canning, who is suing the HSE for the manner in which her midwifery practice was suspended, briefed the minister on how she felt she had been subjected to an inappropriate and unfair process at the hands of the HSE.

Ms Canning, who was suspended 13 months ago on foot of an investigation into two incidents in deliveries which she attended, was invited to meet the minister last week, three days after the latest column in the Irish Examiner highlighting her plight.

She, and the two mothers in question, always maintained that she had acted appropriately, but her indemnity cover was withdrawn by the HSE pending the outcome of an investigation.

That cover was nominally reinstated last February on foot of three separate reports which concluded she had no case to answer. Despite that, she made known that she could not return to practice until the HSE investigation was complete as to do so while an investigation was ongoing might have an adverse impact on her clients. The investigation, which was first launched in August last year, has still not concluded.

HSE boss Tony O’Brien
HSE boss Tony O’Brien

Last weekend, Mr Varadkar said he had expressed serious concerns to HSE boss Tony O’Brien on several occasions about the delay in resolving the matter and had asked the HSE to reconsider its legal strategy.

In a statement Ms Canning said she asked the minister “how can the HSE on the one hand reinstate me on the basis of evidence, and on the other hand continue with an investigation still running seven months after my reinstatement, which leaves ambiguity over my practice?”

Among the issues she would like addressed include accountability “for what happened to me so that the processes that led to the loss of my livelihood are laid bare and understood”. She also asked that the HSE “publicly apologise to me and the pregnant women affected by my suspension”.


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