Hospital issues "unreserved apology" following infant deaths

A full review into maternity services at Portiuncula Hospital in Galway is due to be completed shortly

Hospital issues "unreserved apology" following infant deaths

via Warren and Lorraine Reilly

A Galway couple have received an unreserved apology after losing two babies due to "failings of care” at Portiuncula Hospital.

Lorraine and Warren Reilly lost their two baby girls Asha and Amber in 2008 and 2010 at the hospital in Balinasloe.

A new review into infant care at the facility is due to be completed shortly – however the couple have said they were never informed about another investigation that was undertaken in 2011.

A number of families have criticised the hospital for its failure to inform them of the 2011 review, calling it an “attempted cover-up of the failings in care at the maternity unit by some hospital staff.”

Unreserved apology

In a statement this morning, the Saolta University Health Care Group - which runs the Portiuncula facility - said it had apologised to all families involved for the “failings in the care provided to them."

It said the directors of the group have also, “unreservedly apologised directly to Lorraine and Warren Reilly for the failures of care that contributed to the likely preventable deaths of their daughters, Asha and Amber.”

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Warren Reilly said the hospital should have informed the families about the 2011 review:

“We were horrified to think that a service would go ahead and do a review without even informing the families it had happened but also without looking for their participation and their input because obviously all they can go on otherwise is staff input and medical notes which doesn’t give a full story of what happened to family,” he said.

The couple say they only learned of the review when they contacted the hospital themselves.

Freedom of information

Mr Reilly said it took a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to find out more details:

“It was those emails that showed us that people basically didn’t want to do the review into Amber’s care initially - and only did so because they were afraid that we were contemplating litigation which initially we had absolutely no interest in really,” he said.

“We just wanted to know that they had review practices and made sure any potential mistakes had been learned from; something that is still our focus today.”

The external inquiry, chaired by Prof James Walker, is almost concluded and its findings will be given to the families involved before the final report is published.

The Soalta group said it has communicated with and met with families throughout the process – and offered any support services they require.

Different management

It said the original review – undertaken in 2011 – was completed before the Soalta group was established.

“We fully agree that Lorraine and Warren Reilly should have been previously informed about this earlier review and given an opportunity to be involved,” reads the statement.

Regarding the information obtained by the Reilly’s through their FOI request, the group said:  “Some of the internal communications identified from 2011 are very concerning and we do not condone the actions/views of others [...] and in particular the failure to include and communicate with Lorraine and Warren Reilly.”

The group insisted that regular and on-going re-audits at Portiuncula maternity unit have confirmed that there is no continuing patient safety concern arising from the issues identified.

You can listen back to Mr Reilly's full conversation on Newstalk Breakfast here: