The HSE apologised for what went wrong at Portlaoise hospital before last week’s Prime Time investigation was aired on RTE.
While it initially said it would not be commenting until afterwards, the HSE changed its stance to issue an “unequivocal” statement following the report which revealed that four babies died over a six year period.
“The HSE and the hospital accept that there were serious shortcomings in these cases. There were unacceptable delays in completing reports, communicating with families, and in acting on recommendations. The HSE and the hospital apologises unequivocally to the families for these failings,” it said.
It said its National Director of Acute Hospitals, Mr Ian Carter, would arrange to meet with the families to discuss any concerns they have relating to the care they received or how they were treated.
It also quoted Mr Richard Greene , Director of the National Epidemiology Centre as saying that the death rate of babies in Irish hospitals was low.
“The ESRI annual reports into perinatal mortality rates have consistently shown that Ireland performs very well in relation to international perinatal mortality rates,” he said.
The perinatal mortality rate in Ireland (as shown in the ESRI Reports) has fallen from 8.6 per 1,000 births in 2003 to 5.9 per 1,000 in 2012. The ESRI report states; “This represents a 31.4% decrease over the decade and a 3.3% decrease since 2011.”
The HSE said Portlaoise hospital’s perinatal mortality rate is in line with maternity services nationally.
There is a considerable programme of work underway at maternity services. It said a HSE group is implementing a series of recommendations from various these reports and will implement plans this year.
The HSE’s said its Clinical Programme for Obstetrics and Gynaecology has made significant progress in ensuring consistent standards in maternity services. One of the aims is to maintain and improve the perinatal mortality rate