‘Totally let down’ by state agencies

The mother of one of the babies who died at Portlaoise hospital said it was “disgusting” people like her should find themselves in the middle of a dispute between two state agencies.

Shauna Keyes’ son, Joshua, died seconds after being delivered by C-section at the Midlands Regional Hospital in October 2009.

The draft report into baby deaths at the hospital by the Health Information and Quality Authority makes more than 250 “adverse findings or inferences” affecting senior figures in the HSE, the Department of Health, and State Claims Agency.

According to correspondence published by the HSE on its website on Monday night, it includes serious findings against staff involved in the care of 83 women at the hospital.

HSE director general Tony O’Brien pointed out that at least six separate findings imply a “reckless endangerment” of patients.

In a number of strongly-worded letters to Hiqa, Mr O’Brien describes the women’s accounts as “unverified” and claims the draft report lacks accuracy and balance.

After a meeting between the HSE and department officials last Thursday, Hiqa agreed to provide the HSE with more information on the findings in the draft report and the HSE withdrew a threat of legal action.

However, Ms Keyes said the people in the draft report would never have been named unless it was felt that they had done something wrong.

“Now the hospital and the HSE are coming looking for documentary evidence but it does not exist because there was nothing written down in the first place.

“I feel totally let down by the whole lot of them.

“Hiqa was supposed to go in there and pull no punches like they usually do. I never thought they would stand down for the HSE.”

She was promised in February last year that a separate investigation into her son’s death would be completed within three months. She is still waiting for it.

Ms Keyes said she gave birth to her daughter, Maisie, last December in Portlaoise. “She is fine. They treated me very well the second time round.”

“I never thought I was going to get pregnant again. Even when I was pregnant with Maisie I believed there would be something wrong with her when she was born. I was so shocked when she cried.”

She is also concerned that people wrongly believed that there were just five families involved. “There are so many families affected by this who are silently waiting for answers.”

Patient Focus, an independent national patient advocacy organisation, said that while everyone should have access to fair procedures, the parents at the centre of the investigation should not be forgotten.

The Association of Improvements in the Maternity Services Ireland said service users were not human footballs to be kicked around between the HSE and Hiqa.

Read more of today’s news here

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