Press Release

Minister for Health welcomes release of HSE Maternity Clinical Complaints Review

The Minister for Health Simon Harris today welcomed the publication by the HSE of the final report into maternity complaints in Portlaoise Hospital, for which many families have been waiting

The Minister said that he wanted to “recognise the women and familles who form part of this report and acknowledge their bravery in sharing their experiences. I would like to assure these women that the Government is committed to the progressive development of our maternity services”.

The Minister went on to note that “the report, which spans complaints relating to events over a 40 year period, comes after reports which have been undertaken by the Chief Medical Officer of my Department, and HIQA, into Portlaoise Hospital. It is regretted that it has taken such a long time for these issues to have full visibility. The number of these complaints over such a long period of time is a wake-up call to all of us to ensure our health system becomes more open, and deploys systems that are responsive and listen and learn from patients”.

The Minister continued, “Importantly, I have also been assured by the HSE in relation to the safety of maternity services in Portlaoise Hospital today. I would also recall that HIQA’s most recent report on Portlaoise, published last December, confirmed the high standard of care being delivered by the maternity unit. It also heartening to see that the recommendations arising from this review have in many cases already been implemented, while the HSE is actively progressing others”.

The Minister also noted the significant progress that has been made in reforming Ireland’s maternity services in recent years, with key building blocks now in place to facilitate the provision of a consistently safe and high quality service. These include the National Maternity Strategy, HSE National Standards for Bereavement Care following Pregnancy Loss and Perinatal Death, HIQA National Standards for Safer, Better Maternity Services and the publication of monthly patient safety statements by all maternity hospitals/units in the State. With the newly established National Women & Infants Health Programme now in a position to provide additional leadership, the management, organisation and delivery of maternity, gynaecology and neonatal services will be strengthened.

Notes for Editors:

National Maternity Strategy

  • Ireland’s first National Maternity Strategy – Creating a Better Future Together 2016 -2026 was published in January 2016.  It represents a significant development in the delivery of national maternity policy that will fundamentally change how maternity care is delivered.
  • The Strategy recommends that services should be woman-centred, and provide integrated, team-based care.  The Strategy aims to increase choice to women whilst ensuring that services are safe.
  • It proposes a new model of integrated care that consists of three care pathways, meaning every woman will be able to access the right level of care, from the right professional, at the right time and in the right place, based on her needs. Such an approach will improve the risk profile of the entire service, benefitting the 80,000 families who access it each year (approx. 66,000 births).
  • The Strategy will be implemented on a phased basis over its 2016 – 2026 lifetime.  Implementation will be led by the newly established National Women & Infants Health Programme.
  • €3 million development funding provided for maternity services in 2016 was allocated in line with the Strategy, and included funding for additional staff, including 100 midwives, the development of specialist bereavement teams and for the implementation of the Maternal and Newborn Clinical Management System.  Increased funding of €6.8m has been provided for maternity services in 2017 which will allow for the continued implementation of the Strategy.

National Women & Infants Health Programme (NWIHP)

  • Established in January 2017, the National Women & Infants Health Programme will lead the management, organisation and delivery of maternity, gynaecology and neonatal services, strengthening such services by bringing together work that is currently undertaken across primary, community and acute care.
  • The Programme will ensure the consistent delivery of high quality care in these services and oversee the development of Maternity Networks.  The Maternity Strategy provides that all development funding for maternity services will be ring-fenced and allocated through the NWIHP.  Thus the Programme will facilitate greater oversight and support for service providers and ensure the appropriate allocation and targeting of new resources.  It is expected that the establishment of Maternity Networks across Hospital Groups will assist in the development of a sustainable service model that ensures that all women within each Hospital Group can access a full range of maternity-related services.