Obstetricians query inclusion of mothers in group

Two women who lost babies at Portlaoise hospital are in maternity steering group

Savita Halappanavar, whose death lead to calls for a new maternity strategy. Obstetricians have queried the presence of two women who lost children at Portlaoise hospital in a steering group for developing this strategy.

Savita Halappanavar, whose death lead to calls for a new maternity strategy. Obstetricians have queried the presence of two women who lost children at Portlaoise hospital in a steering group for developing this strategy.

 

Obstetricians have questioned the presence on a national maternity steering group of two women who lost babies at Portlaoise hospital.

One member of the Institute of Obstetricians claimed Róisín Molloy and Shauna Keyes would not be able to represent patients in a balanced way.

Obstetricians have also complained to Minister for Health Leo Varadkar about being outnumbered by midwives in the group which has been set up to devise a national maternity strategy. Others have suggested withdrawing from the 28-member group until they got the same number of places.

Little progress has been made in developing a new strategy, first called for two years ago in a report on the death of Savita Halappanavar. Days before this month’s damning Portlaoise report, which repeated that recommendation, Mr Varadkar announced the establishment of the steering group.

The institute wrote to the Minister expressing its unhappiness a week later. Its chairman, Prof Robert Harrison, said his members were dismayed about the make-up of the group. The presence of three obstetricians and no anaesthetists or critical care specialists, compared to nine people from a midwifery background and three lay people, “does not reflect a fair balance of those who work in maternity services today”, he said.

Prof Harrison canvassed comments from his members and included 26 responses in his letter, which has been seen by The Irish Times.

One said the institute should withdraw unless it got parity of representation.

“At a time when we have the lowest number of obstetricians per capita in the developed world, the Minister or his officials have put together this roster of individuals that is so clearly stacked to yield a particular result for a particular vested interest group (more midwifery- led units)”.

A number of obstetricians expressed concern at the inclusion of Ms Molloy and Ms Keyes as service user representatives.

“Those chosen are both deeply involved in the various Portlaoise hospital reports and may have continuing actions against this hospital,” wrote one group of four obstetricians.

“Surely their personal tragedies should not be singularly allowed to inform the group’s recommendations?”

Another obstetrician said the two women had “extremely unfavourable outcomes . . . With due respect to their suffering, it is unlikely that they can represent the view of patients in a balanced way.”

Only one of the obstetricians who provided a comment was in favour of the group as currently constituted.