| 14.4°C Dublin

Probes launched after two babies die within a week at same hospital

Close

Two babies have died at Cavan General Hospital

Two babies have died at Cavan General Hospital

Two babies have died at Cavan General Hospital

The time it took to get an expectant mother to a hospital where she lost her baby is to come under investigation.

Two babies have died at Cavan General Hospital's maternity unit, which is one of the smallest in the country, in the past week.

In the most the recent case, on Sunday morning, a pregnant woman is understood to have become seriously ill and started to haemorrhage at home.

She needed to be brought to the maternity unit by ambulance, where she underwent an emergency caesarean section.

The baby did not survive and the woman, who needed medical treatment, is recovering.

The tragedy came just days after another baby lost its life at the hospital.

The baby died on Wednesday around 24 hours after it was born by caesarean section.

Two separate investigations are now under way.

"The RCSI Hospitals Group can confirm that two investigations have commenced directly in regard to Cavan General Hospital. It is not the policy of Cavan General Hospital to comment on individual cases," a hospital spokesman said.

The unit has been under scrutiny in recent years over its safety record after four serious incidents involving newborn baby deaths in the space of 30 months.

Local Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghin O Caolain last night called for all the facts to be established before any conclusions are reached.

Concern

"There were unfortunate outcomes. That is not to suggest anything remiss took place," he said.

The first concern was raised in November 2012 when a baby boy, Jamie Flynn, was born in poor condition.

He was transferred to the Rotunda Hospital and died in his mother's arms two days later.

Two other babies died in April and May 2014 and another in May last year.

The unit has a small number of consultant obstetricians. One of the consultants is on administrative leave and has been replaced by a locum consultant.

A recent independent report into the maternity unit, carried out by David Flory, a former chief executive of the NHS Trust Development Authority, found the systems in place covering quality, risk and patient safety were well established and effective.

"The hospital's biggest challenge is coping with staff shortages in critical areas, including obstetricians and midwives," he said.

He pointed out, however, that there are too many locum doctors unfamiliar with hospital procedures.

Its perinatal rate - the number of baby deaths at or around the time of birth - was lower than in most other units with a similar number of births.

Progress

Higher-risk pregnancies go to Drogheda or Dublin for more specialist care.

The future of Cavan and similar smaller units is very much dependent on linking up with the wider network of maternity services in its hospital group.

This allows for a sharing of expertise and the appointment of specialists who are willing to work on different hospital sites.

However, progress in larger maternity hospitals giving support to smaller units is moving slowly. 0A retrospective review of the perinatal death rate at the hospital for December 2015 found no deaths per 1,000 births. There were also no deaths in January.