Warnings go missing in the mail bag

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Warnings about the Portlaoise maternity unit are missing in the Department of Health’s mailbag while another health agency cannot say what it did when the alarm was raised.

The Department of Health could not confirm to the Leinster Express if it received letters from midwives at the maternity unit since 2006 because of the “substantial” amount of letters received. It says “it would not be feasible” to examine it all.

This was in response to the IMNO’s claims that the staff in Portlaoise have continuously written to the Minister for Health since writing to Minister, Mary Harney in 2006.

Lorraine Monaghan, IMNO industrial relations officer said nurses warned “again and again” about staffing. A full review of the unit was requested, but no action was taken.

“The correspondence we receive annually is substantial, in excess of 6,000 alone in 2013, so it would not be feasible to examine it all since 2006,” was the Department’s response.

The IMNO also wrote to the health watchdog, HIQA last August on behalf of staff. The trade union asked for a full review of the maternity unit. HIQA confirmed that they did receive this letter but could not say what, if any, action was taken.

“We dealt with it accordingly, as we do with any letter we receive in the normal manner,” it said.

Meanwhile, the HSE said an “internal” Portlaoise hospital team will investigate 100 calls to a helpline set up in the wake of the Prime Time programme.

It said this team would decide if other incidents should be “escalated”. Anything that emerges will be sent to the Regional Director for Performance & Integration (RDPI), Mr. David Walsh for further investigation.




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