Health Minister calls for 'speedy investigation' into deaths of babies at Cavan General Hospital

Minister Simon Harris says people need to have confidence in our maternity services

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Simon Harris. Image:

The Health Minister says it is essential that people have confidence in maternity services, after the deaths of two babies at Cavan General Hospital.

Two investigations have begun into the deaths of the babies last week.

It is understood one child passed away following an emergency C-section on Wednesday - while the second infant died on Sunday.

Health Minister Simon Harris says he expects the results of the investigations as a matter of urgency.

"I think it is really important that we have these reports so we can establish the facts," Minister Harris said. "It's also very important that we respect patient confidentiality at this very sensitive and difficult time for families.

"It's absolutely essential that people can have confidence in their maternity services, and I see a speedy conclusion of these reports, so the facts can be known, as a very important part of that confidence," he added.

The RCSI Hospitals group has confirmed that two investigations have begun in relation to the deaths.

Dr Sam Coulter Smith is a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology, and former master of the Rotunda Hospital.

He told Newstalk Breakfast that it is important to put the deaths into context.

He said: "First of all, I'd like to express my sympathies to the families concerned. This is a hugely difficult time for them. It's really important that we get answers for people".

"Cavan has 2,000 deliveries a year," he explained. "An internationally accepted perinatal maternity rate would be somewhere between four and five per thousand - so that means in a hospital like Cavan you'd expect to have anything between eight and ten deaths per year.

"That puts things in perspective - I think it's very important we don't have a knee-jerk reaction to this type of thing," he said.