Fianna Fáil TD for Laois Sean Fleming has given a cautious welcome to the HSE Maternity Clinical Complaints Review following its publication earlier today.

Deputy Fleming said, “This report is important as it reviewed over 203 patient complaints that were received by the HSE. Some of the complaints dealt with a lack of monitoring of the babies’ heartbeat and contractions during pregnancy. The vast majority of the rest of the complaints dealt with miscommunication or delayed responses and access to medical records.

“It is deeply unfortunate to read about the cases where patients and their families felt that their complaints were not treated with dignity or respect by doctors and other HSE staff. While many complaints were clinical in nature there were far too many complaints from patients and their families who outlined that they felt their concerns were ignored or in some cases actually hidden. This is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.

“The culture of secrecy has to change. I sincerely hope that the recommendations in this report will be implemented in full. This will be the key test for the staff who work in the maternity services and HSE management. The HSE must set out regular updates regarding the implementation of these recommendations.

“There have been too many shocking stories in recent years regarding maternity care in our health service. However I do recognise recent improvements in this area. In the past hospital reports were completed without families being informed. Families were also denied access to hospital records. The management of how complaints are dealt with should be far more honest, open and transparent. Patients and their families need to be treated with far more respect,” concluded Deputy Fleming.