Dáil debates

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Topical Issue Debate

Maternity Services

6:45 pm

Photo of Billy KelleherBilly Kelleher (Cork North Central, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I extend my deepest sympathies to Mr. Michael Kivlehan and his family on their tragic loss. Mr. Kivlehan's perseverance in having the hearing held in the Republic did the State a great service in the sense that it has brought to light some of the issues regarding the death of his wife, Dhara. It was unacceptable in first instance that efforts were made not to have an inquest. It was said the inquest should be held in Belfast because that was where Dhara had died, but, thankfully, through the perseverance of Michael, his family and legal representatives, an inquest was held here. The information that has emerged on the care offered to Dhara in Sligo leaves a lot of questions unanswered on the longer term issues concerning maternity services, not only in Sligo but also across the country.

Ms Eilish O'Regan wrote an article in the Irish Independenttoday on the lack of information emerging from maternity services. We have raised this issue before on foot of the cases of Tanya McCabe, Savita Halappanavar and others who died while giving birth or just thereafter. Ms O'Regan states:

The blunt statement was made by Phelim Quinn, who is now acting head of the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), when he was launching its report on the death of Savita Halappanavar in University Hospital Galway. He revealed that some maternity units have not even provided annual reports to give basic statistics and reveal how and why any babies or mothers died in their care. Maternity services have existed largely under the radar until the case of Savita and earlier this year revelations of four similar baby deaths in Portlaoise hospital since 2006. The full details of the tragic case of Dhara Kivlehan, who died in Sligo General Hospital, would probably never have come to light had it not been for her brave husband Michael.
In general, we have very safe maternity services in this country, but there is still a problem regarding the collation of data on incidents and ensuring monitoring and proper oversight. We cannot continually blame staff when there are huge pressures on the system. There are systemic failures in the system regarding intensive care beds. A lack of such beds was identified during the inquest. We do not yet have a centralised system for intensive care bed allocation such that patients can be transferred to the place where the most appropriate care is available. We owe it to Dhara and the other women who have, unfortunately, died tragically to put in place safe services. Most important, we owe it to those women who are pregnant and the young women who intend to have a child at some stage in our maternity services. We also owe it to the staff.


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