Critical risks at Portlaoise hospital raised by medics in 2011

Call for resources to address ‘serious inadequacies’ unheeded by Government officials

Former Coombe master Dr Chris Fitzpatrick confirmed a report was sent to the HSE and the Department of Health ‘at the highest level’ under the auspices of the HSE’s clinical programme in obstetrics. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Former Coombe master Dr Chris Fitzpatrick confirmed a report was sent to the HSE and the Department of Health ‘at the highest level’ under the auspices of the HSE’s clinical programme in obstetrics. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

Senior managers in the HSE and Department of Health were alerted to “critical clinical risks” at Portlaoise hospital four years ago, but failed to respond to a detailed application for extra staff and services.

Senior doctors, midwives and managers in the Coombe hospital in Dublin and Portlaoise and Mullingar hospitals pleaded for more resources to tackle “serious inadequacies” in obstetric staffing and training, in a 2011 report seen by The Irish Times.

In their application for funding, they proposed many of the measures now being implemented in the wake of the damning Hiqa (Health Information and Quality Authority) report on Portlaoise, such as the appointment of more obstetricians and improved ultrasound and bereavement services for patients.

An implementation committee from the three hospitals said the proposals would be self-funding as the cost of providing extra services would be recouped through a reduced outlay on medical negligence claims.

Former Coombe master Dr Chris Fitzpatrick, who chaired the committee, confirmed it was sent to the HSE and the Department “at the highest level” under the auspices of the HSE’s clinical programme in obstetrics.

“There was no response,” he said, despite the “critical need” for the extra staff.

He said there was a need for “greater responsiveness and compassion in the corridors of power” when serious risks were identified by staff.

The committee proposed developing the initiative with senior HSE officials.

HSE director general Tony O’Brien will be questioned today by the Oireachtas health committee on Portlaoise .