Review of Portlaoise baby deaths complete, says HSE

Investigation into infant fatalities at Portlaoise hospital was announced in 2015

The Health Service Executive has said the long-awaited report into whether any health service staff have a case to answer over the deaths of babies at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise has now been completed.

However, the HSE said it could not comment on whether the report, which was initially announced nearly three years ago, has found any employee should face disciplinary action.

The HSE said on Sunday: “While the report is complete, it remains in-process. Consequently, the HSE cannot make any further comment at this stage.”

The deaths of five babies in Portlaoise were reported in 2014 in an RTÉ documentary, and scores of women have since come forward with stories of adverse events in the maternity unit, including further deaths.


Parents have been calling for those responsible, both clinical staff and managers, to be held accountable.

A HSE investigation began in July in 2015 and was, initially, scheduled to take three months to complete. However, it is understood the investigation has only been finalised in recent weeks.

Clinical or managerial

Three former National Health Service managers from the UK were appointed in 2015 to determine whether any HSE staff had a clinical or managerial case to answer in relation to the deaths.

These have been joined by Northern Ireland obstetrician Jim Dornan and barrister Paul Brady.

This review group was asked to report to the HSE on whether any staff should face disciplinary proceedings or may have committed serious misconduct.

The Irish Times has previously reported that a senior figure such as a retired judge may have to be appointed to determine any sanctions that could apply on foot of any findings of the review group.

The HSE has argued previously this process was necessary to ensure the rights of those under investigation were upheld and due to the complexity of the cases.

Meanwhile, the HSE will on Monday publish a new five-year strategic plan for hospital services in Dublin and the Midlands including Portlaoise.

Children on trolleys

Separately nurses will on Monday announcethey will in future be setting out details of the number of children on trolleys as part of their daily “trolley watch” count.

The Irish Nurses’ and Midwives’ Organisation (INMO) has been recording since 2004 the number of adult patients deemed to require admission by doctors who are waiting for a hospital bed on trolleys in emergency departments or on wards.

The nurses’ trade union said: “The winter trolley crisis has seen trolley figures soar to a record high of 677 on a single day during the first week of January 2018. It is unfortunate and very unwelcome that children are now more regularly being recorded as admitted for hospital care, but without an inpatient bed, that the trolley count has to be expanded to record and highlight these incidences. The INMO executive council at their October meeting agreed to launch a paediatric trolley watch count at the request of the INMO children’s nurses section. The INMO have been monitoring the number of children on trolleys since November 2017 and will now officially launch Paediatric Trolley Watch.”

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent