The Health Service Executive has apologised to families for “failings” at Portlaoise hospital arising form the deaths of four babies there.
The HSE says the Prime Time programme due to air this evening deals with the deaths of four babies over a six year period in Portlaoise Hospital.
The HSE says the families concerned have expressed anger and disappointment for the way in which they were treated by the hospital and at the speed with which recommendations arising from reports into their death of their babies were implemented.
“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,” says the statement.
In its statement the HSE says the National Director of Acute Hospitals, Mr Ian Carter, will arrange to meet with the families to discuss any concerns they have relating to the care they received or how they were treated.
It quotes Richard Greene , Director of the National Epidemiology Centre as saying that: “The ESRI annual reports into perinatal mortality rates* have consistently shown that Ireland performs very well in relation to international perinatal mortality rates. Ireland has a rate of 5.9 per 1,000 live births and stillbirths, compared to UK where the perinatal mortality rate was 7.4 per 1,000 and France, were it was 12 per 1,000 in 2012.
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 say Portlaoise hospital’s perinatal mortality rate is in line with maternity services nationally.
The HSE said it is its policy to inform parents and patients when a review is carried out. There are rare exceptions, where for confidential personal and/or social reasons, it is not possible to inform the family.
It says the implementation of the Open Disclosure policy, which was launched in November 2013, is part of a commitment to improving how the health services inform patients and families when things go wrong in their care. Work is already underway in hospitals and primary care services throughout the country to give full effect to this important policy. Considerable preparation, support and staff training is required to support this significant cultural change for the Irish health services.
The HSE said there is a considerable programme of work underway in relation to maternity services in Ireland. In response to a series of reports into Ireland’s maternity services the HSE established last year a National Group to oversee the implementation of a series of recommendations arising from these reports. This group has developed implementation plans for 2014 which will build on the many initiatives that are already underway in maternity services to implement the recommendations.
The executive said its Clinical Programme for Obstetrics and Gynaecology has made significant progress in the proactive establishment of clinical guidelines for Obstetrics and Gynaecology services to ensure consistent standards are in place in all maternity services. One of the aims of the programme has been to maintain and improve Ireland’s perinatal mortality rate.
The HSE says ESRI annual reports into perinatal mortality rates* have consistently shown that Ireland performs very well in relation to international perinatal mortality rates. Ireland has a rate of 5.9 per 1,000 live births and stillbirths, compared to UK where the perinatal mortality rate was 7.4 per 1,000 and France, were it was 12 per 1,000 in 2012.
In a detailed audit of Perinatal mortality in 2011, undertaken by the National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre, the HSE says the number of intrapartum deaths (including babies dying in the first week after birth) nationally, was less than 1 in 2500 births.
The executive says the rates are similar for all hospitals in Ireland and low in comparison to international standards ( 1: 1400 UK 2008 and 1:2000 in Scotland in 2011).