Families welcome Portlaoise hospital recommendations

‘You can get some comfort from knowing that other babies will go home safely as a result of this’

Roisin and Mark Molloy at Leinster House earlier this month seeking cross-party support for independent Hiqa inquiries into all baby deaths in Portlaoise hospital. Photograph: Eric Luke

Roisin and Mark Molloy at Leinster House earlier this month seeking cross-party support for independent Hiqa inquiries into all baby deaths in Portlaoise hospital. Photograph: Eric Luke

Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 17:02

Families whose babies died in the maternity unit at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise have welcomed recommendations to address what the Minister for Health described as “clear failures” of the hospital’s maternity services.

However, the father of one of four babies whose deaths were at the centre of an RTE Prime Time programme which aired last month said it was a “bittersweet day” for the family:

“When all is said and done we’ll visit a grave in the morning; no matter what we did we’re not getting Mark back tomorrow,” the baby’s father, also named Mark Molloy said following the launch of the report and recommendations today.

“While you can get some comfort from knowing that other babies will go home safely as a result of this, it’s still a sad day for us”.

He described the report – which includes recommendations that hospital apologise unequivocally to the affected families and that a Hiqa investigation take place as well as the appointment this morning of a transition team which are now in control of maternity services in Portlaoise hospital – as a “good starting point”.

His wife, Roisin Molloy described the two years since baby Mark’s death in January 2012 as a “nightmare”.

“We knew Mark shouldn’t have died...we were literally faced with a constant battle with the HSE in order to get Mark’s death acknowledged that it was an avoidable death, acknowledged that it shouldn’t have happened and that it shouldn’t happen again,” she said.

“The cost to our family, our other four boys has been immense. We can’t get the last two years back, they’ve taken the last two years of our lives”.

However, she that she and her husband and the other affected families would “make that it’s a safer unit and those who are accountable will be held to account”.

“We’re going to make sure that...we’ll be involved in the terms of reference for the Hiqa report, that the concerns that we have identified for the last two years are going to be covered in the report and that changes will be made.”

She said she and the other families had been treated “appallingly” following the deaths of their children: “They had no respect for our children. They had no respect for us as a family and what they had done to us.”

Asked if they would return to Portlaoise the couple said they would not be able to do so given their experience: “Hopefully for other people Portlaoise will become a safe unit but it holds too many bad memories for me,” Mr Molloy replied.

“Our history is too traumatic,” Ms Molloy added. “Our baby died there and we were sent out the back door of that hospital. We were treated so appallingly so for that reason we could never go back. They failed us.”

Shauna Keyes, whose baby Joshua Keyes-Cornally died at the unit in 2009 said she was “elated” following the report and its recommendations adding that she felt “vindicated, good about myself and good about everything”.

In four short weeks we’ve managed to take away the pain that we had in four years,” she said.

“It was four years with no answers...it is very frustrating, of course it’s frustrating. All you’re meeting are walls, barriers and lies. People don’t deserve to be treated like that. They’ve had a hard enough time, they need to know the truth”.