Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East, Colm Keaveney, has called for an investigation into the leaking of a report into maternity services at Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe, which was handed over to members of the media before the families at the centre of the investigation were contacted by management at the hospital.  The report examines deficiencies at the hospital’s maternity unit following the deaths of two babies during childbirth, and a further five cases where babies were deprived of oxygen during delivery.

Deputy Keaveney commented, “This morning the Director of Clinical Service of the Saolta Hospital Group, Pat Nash, confirmed that despite the leaking of the report, not all of the families involved had been contacted.  These parents have already been through a traumatic and distressing experience, which they are now being forced to relive through the leaking of this report.  I am extremely concerned that some of the families may not have had an opportunity to be fully heard by hospital management, and that they were not afforded adequate support.

“Portiuncula has received international recognition for the delivery of its maternity services, and the hospital itself has moved to reassure patients.  There is no doubt that health service reforms are both beneficial and necessary, however the leaking of this report bears the hallmark of previous attempts to create a crisis in our local public health service, and raises concern about a move towards the amalgamation of services.  Portiuncula has been at the centre of politically motivated leaks and reports, which have had devastating implications for the retention of local services.

“There has been a sustained low level campaign to attempt to downgrade services at Portiuncula Hospital.  Last year a confidential report commissioned by the West/North West Hospital Group outlined plans for the dismantling of obstetrician led maternity services in the region, including the downgrading or closure of the maternity unit at Portiuncula.  The report was buried before the Local Elections last May but the surfacing of a new leak raises suspicions that the amalgamation proposals are not off the table.

“There needs to be a clear vision for the future of our health services in Ballinasloe, and the greater Western region.  We need to see structural changes, but these changes must be in the best interest of the people living in the area and not ones that are politically motivated”.