Press Release

Minister for Health Simon Harris welcomes publication of the Review of progress at the Midland Regional Hospital, in implementing recommendations following HIQA’s investigation

The Minister for Health Simon Harris welcomed HIQA’s publication today of the review they undertook of progress at the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise in implementing the local recommendations made by HIQA in 2015. The report, which HIQA undertook at the request of the Department shows how much services have improved for the women using maternity services at the hospital.

The Minister said “It is clear that the Maternity Service at Portlaoise has come a long way in a short time. I remember very well how a group of brave women went public with their very personal stories and tragic experiences. They had already faced every parent’s worst fear – the tragic loss of a child. But it was the way they were treated when they were at their most vulnerable that made what happened unacceptable to me as Minister for Health”

“Thanks to each one of them and the very difficult steps they had to take, we can see a service that has improved in every respect- its compassion and its safety have moved far from where they were two years ago. We now have a maternity service in Portlaoise where front line staff and local leadership are empowered, engaged and assured in what they do and how do they do it. They implement standards, they take steps to measure and to ensure that their service is safe. They are entitled to be self-confident and proud of what they do and how hard they have worked to turn their own service around for the benefit of their patients”

The extent of progress in patient safety measures that can be seen in Portlaoise maternity services demonstrates the commitment of the staff and the leadership team at Portlaoise Hospital and the team at Hospital Group level. It shows that standards and guidelines such as early warning systems, clinical audit, reporting of adverse events, and publication of safety statements can be implemented successfully and verifiably. The Minster said in this regard, “There are lessons for other maternity services in how Portlaoise has been able to implement nationally mandated patient safety measures”

The HIQA report has identified immediate issues to be addressed in general hospital services. The Minister said “I have asked the HSE to address these immediate risk issues as a priority, and to ensure that the hospital is appropriately supported in its role by the other hospitals in the Hospital Group to serve the patients of the Midlands.”

The Department of Health and the HSE are committed to securing and developing the role of Portlaoise Hospital within the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group. In this context, additional funding will be provided to facilitate the opening next year of a new Medical Assessment Unit at Portlaoise.

The Group has been working for some time on a draft plan for a new model of clinical service delivery at Portlaoise Hospital which takes account of the need to develop services at Portlaoise in the context of developing the model of service provision for the entire Hospital Group. The HSE has now submitted the draft plan to the Department of Health, the draft plan will be reviewed in detail by the Department.

Learning from Portlaoise is a very important part of the new measures being put in place in the Department to minimise the risk of such events recurring.

In conclusion, the Minister said, “I don’t want to see patients in such circumstances being forced to go public in order to be heard. I am establishing a National Patient Safety Office in my Department later this week for that very reason. It will include a national monitoring system to track safety as one of a number of measures that together will improve the chances of incidents being picked up earlier and patients being responded to in a more humane way”