Health Minister Leo Varadkar felt their anger and raw grief when he met some of them this week. With Dr Varadkar was the chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan and Dr Susan O’Reilly, chief executive of the Dublin Midland Hospital Group.
During the three-hour private meeting on Tuesday night, families were updated on measures taken to improve patient safety and maternity services.
About 100 families attended the meeting but they would have represented around half of those affected by adverse incidents in the hospital’s maternity unit.
The patient advocacy co-ordinator with Patient Focus, Cathriona Molloy, who attended the meeting, said there was a lot of anger in the room.
Dr Varadkar said the hospital was much safer but a lot of work remained to be done.
Ms Molloy said the minister told them the national maternity strategy would be brought to Cabinet soon and would be published before the general election. While it was a productive meeting, concern remained that all of the improvements planned would be followed through.
“For many of the families, whose grief is still raw, the minister could not fix it for them — they still have a long road ahead of them,” said Ms Molloy.
“Some families are considering making complaints to the gardaí about what happened to their babies.
“It was very sad to see how many lives have been destroyed by our maternity services.”
Ms Molloy said a woman, whose baby died 28 years ago, told those attending not to let their bitterness destroy them. She said there were people willing to listen to them — nobody listened to her 28 year ago.
Roisín Molloy, whose son Mark, died shortly after he was born in the hospital, said her son’s investigation was complete after a four-year battle but his case was unique. There had been an investigation, an inquest and a court settlement.
“We are fairly unique in that we have those three things,” she said on RTÉ radio yesterday. “I don’t know anybody else who’s achieved that, which is wrong.” Because of the failings of the hospital, families were still battling with the HSE and still waiting for answers, she said.
A disciplinary investigation being carried out by the HSE has yet to be published, but Ms Molloy said to date nobody in management or administration had been suspended or put on leave.
And, she said, most of the people at the meeting were unaware of the investigation.
Ms Molloy said the families involved, who were trying to hold on to the anonymity, would have to come together as a group and Patient Focus would help them to do that.