Families of babies who died after receiving poor care in Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise have expressed concern about the continuing delay in publishing a critical report into its services.
Publication of the report from the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) has been delayed because of objections from the HSE, which threatened to take legal proceedings if changes were not made to a final draft.
Hiqa was originally due to complete the report by the end of last year, but this was extended to February as the number of families interviewed grew. Some 83 families have expressed concern over standards in the hospital.
The draft report, contents of which were revealed in The Irish Times earlier this month, is highly critical of all levels of management in the HSE for failing to act on known safety risks in the maternity unit.
HSE director general Tony O’Brien has claimed the draft report is inaccurate, unbalanced and unfair to staff.
Still in limbo
“We are now two months on from the completion of the report and we’re still in limbo,” said
, whose son Mark died in the hospital shortly after his wife, Roisin, gave birth there in January 2012.
“Hiqa needs to place a firm date on the HSE for all responses and this date needs to be made public,” Mr Molloy said. “If no responses are received by the date, it should crack on.”
Oliver Kelly, whose daughter Mary Kate was stillborn in May 2013 after his partner, Amy Delahunt, received substandard care in Portlaoise, said he feared the report was being "put on the long finger".
“The longer it takes, the more we worry it will be diluted,” Mr Kelly said. “We need the findings as soon as possible so systems can be changed nationally.”
Hiqa, which had furnished the HSE with parts of the draft report containing adverse findings against staff, agreed to give the HSE time to respond before publishing the report. The HSE filed detailed submissions on the draft and further correspondence has ensued between the two organisations.
A spokesman for Hiqa said the final report still had to be approved by the regulator’s board. He declined to say when the board would meet to discuss the report, but said the authority’s interactions with the HSE were complete.
Mr Molloy said the HSE responses threatened to “bog things down in legality” and hold up publication further. Where due process took precedence, he added, “staff rights can outweigh patient safety”.