Coroner called for maternity unit inquiry in 2010

A family who lost two newborn babies half a decade ago at a hospital now facing a “too similar” maternity services crisis has claimed the current scandal would not exist if officials acted on what happened.

Coroner called for maternity unit inquiry in 2010

Warren Reilly hit out at the situation last night after questioning whether a 2011 coroner-sought inquiry into Portiuncula Hospital after his second daughter’s death in 2010 ever took place.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr Reilly, from Loughrea in Co Galway, said Dublin city coroner Dr Brian Farrell called for an inquiry into the hospital’s maternity services four years ago after the death of his daughter Amber.

The fatality, when Amber’s mother Lorraine was 40 weeks’ pregnant, happened just two years after the Reillys suffered a similar tragedy at the same hospital when their daughter Asha was stillborn at 30 weeks.

Both cases involved disagreements between medics over how seriously to take the developing incidents, which included bleeding, delays in emergency caesarean section surgery and — in Amber’s case — oxygen problems.

However, despite the gravity of the issues involved, and the fact a separate maternity services scandal with “too similar” problems is now taking place at the same hospital, Mr Reilly said his family have been repeatedly stonewalled on whether the coroner’s call was acted on.

“My personal view is if a review took place it doesn’t seem to have been adequate. The cases are far too similar.

We’ve put in two requests for the report. We had to put in a Freedom of Information Act request last week because we haven’t heard anything back. We phone the hospital, we get a gatekeeper. We’re being stonewalled.”

A spokesperson for Portiuncula Hospital repeatedly refused to comment on whether the coroner-sought inquiry into Amber’s death in 2010 took place, other than to say the facility will deal “directly” with anyone who raises concerns.

The apparent information black-out emerged as Portiuncula officials met to finalise the terms of reference into a fresh scandal at the crisis-hit hospital.

Senior management were last night discussing the exact scope of its inquiry into the deaths of two newborn babies due to oxygen deprivation last year. Five other babies also suffered from the same problem, but survived.

It is understood Portiuncula officials want to confine their investigation to incidents in 2014.

This will leave previous cases to be examined by the separate national inquiry linked to issues at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise last year.

This second, separate investigation already involves 170 families across the country, with 30 deaths now being examined further.

Meanwhile, Mr Reilly has said he wants to meet with Health Minister Leo Varadkar to discuss his concerns.

The meeting comes after Mr Varadkar met widowers Seán Rowlette and Michael Kivlehan last week over a separate maternity issue.

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