James Reilly widens review into Cavan hospital after baby deaths

Minister to order Hiqa to focus on maternity services in Cavan, in addition to Portlaoise

Minister for Health James Reilly is to instruct the State's health watchdog to undertake a review of maternity services at Cavan General Hospital.

This follows the death of two infants in the hospital in the past month and the death of another baby in November 2012.

Dr Reilly said the Health Information and Quality Authority was currently carrying out an investigation into maternity services at Midlands General Hospital in Portlaoise.

This investigation was ordered after concerns were expressed over the deaths of a number of children in that hospital in recent years.

The Minister has effectively broadened this investigation by saying he will ask Hiqa to pay “particular attention” to maternity services at Cavan in addition to Portlaoise.

Speaking to reporters in Cavan today, where he was opening a primary care centre, he said the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan had reassured him that the service to pregnant women attending Cavan General Hospital was "very safe and very good" and it had a bright future.

“I want to reassure people, especially women who are expecting a child, that there is a safe service in Cavan but nonetheless, given the events of the past 18 months, I want to be doubly reassured that there isn’t more to be done in order to make the service even safer,” Dr Reilly said.

Dr Reilly said it was important to involve external agencies when investigations were being carried out, as they bring “utter objectivity”.

He said Hiqa’s record was outstanding in that regard.

The Minister said the report into the death of the child in November 2012 would be completed “in the coming weeks” but added that he was not happy that it had taken to long to finish.

He said his thoughts were with the family of the baby who died last Tuesday but he was not going to say anything to make things worse.