Press Release

Statement by the Department of Health on the publication of State Claims Agency review of clinical incidents over five years in maternity and gynaecology services

The report (“Clinical Incidents and Claims Report in Maternity and Gynaecology Services – a five year review 2010-2014”) published today (20th October 2015) by the State Claims Agency (SCA) is a comprehensive analysis of adverse incidents in maternity services over the last five years.

The Department welcomes this review which shows that in terms of incident reporting and claims, rates in Ireland are not out of line with other countries.

It is the first time a review of this nature has been conducted by the SCA. As such, it provides important baseline data against which future performance may be measured. The review shows that our reporting systems are not perfect and identifies variations in how hospitals have been reporting incidents over the years. However, a new National Incident Management System (NIMS) was introduced in 2014 and since June 2015 all incidents in the healthcare sector are now being reported directly on to NIMS. It facilitates more detailed and consistent reporting of incidents. The commitment of the SCA to working with the HSE and with its maternity services to encourage more consistent reporting is welcome.

A strong patient safety culture encourages and supports incident reporting. By openly reporting incidents valuable learning is provided to the whole system and therefore steps can be taken towards reducing avoidable adverse events in so far as is possible.

Visibility of this type of data combined with the introduction of new maternity reporting systems such as the Maternity Patient Safety Statement and clinical indicators from the Obstetric and Gynaecology Clinical Programme creates the opportunity to target specific areas and services for focused improvement.

The Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, said: “The report contains the type of analysis that will add to our patient safety information and intelligence. It will assist us to identify patterns and trends in the occurrence of healthcare incidents”.

The Department is committed to improving maternity services.  A National Women’s and Infant Health Programme will be established by the HSE to drive improvement and standardise care across all 19 maternity units.  In addition the Maternity Strategy currently under development will provide the policy to direct and underpin the work of the programme.  Additional funding has been provided in Budget 2016 for maternity service improvements.

The report can be found here.