'Serious underinvestment' in Portlaoise hospital over many years says Dr Peter Boylan

Funding

'Serious underinvestment' in Portlaoise hospital over many years says Dr Peter Boylan

Serious underinvestment and no fenced off funding in Portlaoise were key reasons for the failures at Portlaoise, according to a senior obstetrician.

Dr Peter Boylan was speaking the launch of the report of the investigation of complaints into the hospital’s maternity unit.

The former master of the National Maternity Hospital said a lesson learned about the crisis was the governance of maternity services. He said this is “really important” and is linked to other issues such as money.

“One of the important things about governance is that you have someone who has authority, but is also accountable. There should be one person who is answerable or is the go to person, and is clearly identifiable as the person who has authority and accountability.

“But in order to have proper accountability and authority they need to have budgetary allocation which is appropriate for delivering a high quality service. If you look back at what happened in Portlaoise over the past 20 or 30 years, there was a serious underinvestment in the service,” he said at the launch of the report.

Dr Boylan believes the development of the hospital groups and the work of the new Womens and Children Committee would help to address this problem

“It is really important that maternity services and women’s health care has a protected budget because that is one of the problems that gave rise to all these difficulties in Portlaoise,” said Dr Boylan.

Governance and budgetary protection for women’s health care are “absolutely critical,” he concluded. Since 2014 extra medical and nursing staff have been recruited as part of the partnership with the Coombe hospital in Dublin.