Hiqa publishes terms of Portlaoise hospital investigation

Ambulance service under the spotlight

Roisin and Mark Molloy who went to Leinster House earlier this year  seeking cross-party support for a Hiqa inquiry into all baby deaths in Portlaoise hospital. Photograph: Eric Luke

Roisin and Mark Molloy who went to Leinster House earlier this year seeking cross-party support for a Hiqa inquiry into all baby deaths in Portlaoise hospital. Photograph: Eric Luke

Sat, Mar 22, 2014, 01:00

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) has published the terms of reference for its investigation into maternity services at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise, and for its review of the national ambulance service.

The investigation into Portlaoise hospital, instigated at the request of Minister for Health James Reilly will look at how governance arrangements provided by the HSE are affecting the care received by patients.

It follows the deaths of a number of babies at the hospital’s maternity unit over a six-year period.

Specifically, it will look at the extent of serious adverse incidents at the hospital, the HSE’s response to such incidents and whether lessons are being learned from them.

It will also examine how the HSE deals with patients, in terms of communication and how it conducts its relationships with them.

“If, in the course of the investigation it becomes apparent that there are reasonable grounds to believe that there are further or other serious risks to the health or welfare of any person or persons receiving services, the investigation team may recommend to the authority and/or the Minister for Health, that these terms be extended to include further investigation or that a new investigation should be undertaken,” it said in a statement.

Hiqa did not say when the investigation would be complete.

Ambulance service
Separately, it has also published terms of reference for its review of the national ambulance service, to ensure it is “safe and effective”.

A three-yearly review of the service was planned for later in the year.

However, following a series of incidents in which people died, Mr Reilly in January expressed his “concern” and asked Hiqa to bring the review forward. It is now under way.

A spokesman said the review would examine the governance arrangements to ensure the “timely assessment, diagnosis, initial management and transport of an acutely ill patient to an appropriate healthcare facility”.

‘Strategic direction’
Its object would be to ensure the national ambulance service had a “clear strategic direction with implementation plans and control measures” as well as robust governance and leadership arrangements at all levels within the service.