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Call for external reviews of baby and mother deaths in hospitals

Published 01/06/2016

The Taoiseach said independent inquiries would be carried out if necessary
The Taoiseach said independent inquiries would be carried out if necessary

The Government is facing calls to hold external reviews of perinatal and maternal deaths in hospitals.

Hospital bosses are internally reviewing the cases of two baby deaths in Cavan General Hospital in the last week while the death of expectant mother Malak Kuzbary Thawley at Holles Street in Dublin earlier in the month is also being examined.

Separate internal inquiries were launched in the past after four other baby deaths in Cavan in the space of two-and-a-half years from late 2012 to May 2015.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed only one of those investigations has been completed and two others were at "an advanced stage".

"I think it's important first of all to have the internal review completed under the systems that apply... if an independent outside review is necessary, well, then that can happen," he said.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin called for cases of baby deaths and those of expectant mothers to be examined by experts from outside the hospitals affected.

"The vast, vast majority of pregnancies in Ireland are safe and uneventful, nonetheless the recent deaths will create further uncertainty and issues," he said.

Mr Martin, who also claimed maternity units were under-resourced, said it was worrying that no reports have been published into the circumstances of past baby deaths in Cavan.

"We don't have a clear idea what transpired and I think that is unsatisfactory," he said.

The Taoiseach said independent inquiries would be carried out if necessary.

"When a death like this occurs, either in birth or giving birth, it is always a source of stress and tragedy for the families involved," he said.

Mr Kenny expressed sympathies with Alan Thawley, whose wife died in Holles Street, and the families whose babies died recently in Cavan.

"The safety and quality of maternity services is a priority and will remain so for the Government and for the Minister for Health (Simon Harris)," he said.

Sinn Fein's health spokesman Caoimhghin O Caolain also called for the Cavan reports to be published.

Official figures published by the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland hospital group said the perinatal mortality rate in Cavan last year was 2.1 per 1,000 births; 1.2 in 2014; and this year there were no perinatal deaths recorded at the hospital until this month.

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