Portiuncula Hospital problem births inquiry team appointed

Investigation into maternity services at Co Galway hospital to take at least five months

The membership of an investigation team into maternity services at Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, has been announced.

The group, chaired by James Walker, professor of obstetrics at the University of Leeds, is expected to take five months to complete the investigation.

Its initial focus will be on at least 12 “adverse perinatal events” at the hospital between 2008 and last November.

Most of these problem births arose when babies suffered a lack of oxygen during labour, as a result of which some suffered brain damage and, in several cases, death.


Saolta University Health Care Group, which runs the Co Galway hospital, says the review team is independent, and will be supported by investigatory staff drawn from other HSE hospital groups.

The review and Prof Walker’s appointment were announced in January but it has taken until now to find qualified people to appoint to the team.

Saolta says regular re-audits at the maternity unit at the hospital have confirmed that there is no continuing patient safety concern arising from the issues identified in previous births.

“There have been no negative perinatal outcomes at Portiuncula Hospital Ballinasloe since the enhanced monitoring measures were put in place.”

A spokesman said it regretted any distress caused to the families involved and could offer support services if required.

The membership of the team is:

Professor James Walker (Chair): Professor of Obstetrics in the University of Leeds.

Ms Rachel Conaty: Assistant Director of Midwifery and Nursing at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dublin from 2008 to 2015..

Professor Sean Daly: Elected Master of the Coombe Hospital in 1998:Mastership 1999-2005: Head of Perinatal Medicine in Coombe Hospital 2005-2010

Professor Eugene Dempsey: Consultant Neonatologist at Cork University Maternity Hospital and Professor of Paediatrics at University College Cork.

Dr Adrienne Foran: Consultant Neonatologist, Rotunda Hospital

Dr Paul Hughes: Obstetrician & Gynaecologist , Kerry

Ms Breda Shiel Kerans: service user representative on the Maternity Services Steering Group

Dr Elaine Madden: Head of Midwifery and Gynaecology at the South Eastern Trust (Belfast).

Ms Cora McCaughan: Head of the HSE National incident Management and Learning Team.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times