Having had a very positive recent experience of maternity services in Portlaoise, Cllr Brendan Killeavy said the “level of services was rough” two years ago.
His wife recently gave birth to twins at the hospital and a number of staff were in attendance, whereas previously they got “very little attention” he told the special meeting on the hospital last week. The Offaly councillor said there was a strong emphasis on monitoring the heartbeats of the babies, in contrast to previous occasions when monitoring equipment slipped off. “Recently the monitoring was a big priority for them, with two staff members checking it. The level of service was excellent,” he said.
Dr Susan O’Reilly said this was the feedback which they were getting. She said they now have a policy of replying to queries/communication withing thirty days. She said nine out of 10 communications received are positive.
Cllr Killeavy added that the way parents of babies who died at the hospital were treated was “disgraceful”. “The hoops they were made jump through to get their records was absolutely terrible,” he said.
Dr O’Reilly said they are now encouraging staff to report incidents, rather than ignore them. “We have made huge strides but to have full open disclosure is a two to three year project,” she said.
It was agreed at the meeting that HSE director general Tony O’Brien should also attend one of the Dublin Mid-Leinster Forum to answer questions. The forum chairman Cllr Charlie O’Connor said they would write to Mr O’Brien requesting his attendance at a future meeting.
Dr O’Reilly said there is now a lot of emphasis on CTG monitoring for all midwifes, which is mandatory, and is also refreshed every two years. There is also training in the administering of drugs, including oxytocin, which is used to speed up labour. There are now 72 midwives at Portlaoise hospital.