Denis Naughten TD has called on the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, to ensure that the inquiry at Portiuncula Hospital includes a review of the actions taken by Saolta Management once they became aware of staff concerns regarding the operation of the maternity unit in Ballinasloe. Dep.Naughten made his call on foot of the disclosure that the HSE is seeking to block publication of parts of the Portlaoise Maternity Report, produced by HIQA, which are critical of resourcing and overall management of the maternity services at the hospital.
"The inquiry at Portiuncula must seek to find out what actions, if any, where taken by Saolta management when they were made aware of staffing, supervision and training concerns by both staff and midwifery management as far back as July 2013," stated Denis Naughten.
“In correspondence that I have seen, midwives at Portiuncula Hospital have consistently highlighted the lack of adequate staffing in the maternity unit. Instead of having one midwife to 28 births, Portiuncula Hospital was operating to a ratio of one midwife to 54 births last year, nearly half the number of midwives that were required.
He added that in July 2013, the staffing situation was so serious that this matter was brought directly to the attention of the then Group CEO Bill Maher; Group Chief Operating Officer Tony Canavan and Group Clinical Director Dr Pat Nash.
“The correspondence went on to inform all three that funding was needed to appoint midwifery trainers across all of the maternity hospitals in the Group - Galway University, Portiuncula, Mayo General, Sligo General and Letterkenny General.
“The communication circulated to the three most senior managers of the Hospital Group said that ‘these are important appointments to ensure recommendations and learnings are applied from recent reports’.”
“This took place less than one month after the HSE report into the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar found that a key factor in her death was inadequate assessment and monitoring,” pointed out Dep Naughten.
“Therefore, the Minister for Health must ensure that the terms of this inquiry not only look into the care of each of the babies and their mothers, but also the actions taken by the Saolta Hospital Group on foot of staff concerns".
“The parents at the centre of this inquiry deserve the full truth of what happened in their cases and this can only happen with an inquiry into the actions, if any, which management took when concerns were brought to their attention,” concluded Dep Naughten