Health Minister Leo Varadkar says parents of babies who died at Midlands hospital were lied to

NewsBy Neil Fetherston
Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar

Health Minister Leo Varadkar has said a culture of defensiveness within the health service led to parents of babies who died at the Midlands hospital in Portlaoise being lied to over the circumstances of their children's deaths.

Speaking on RTÉ's This Week programme, the Minister said he found it "extremely worrying" and "appalling" that parents who lost children at the hospital "were not dealt with honestly".

This included some cases where parents were told that their child's death was the only one of its kind.

He said it was important to create an environment where hospital clinicians at all levels were honest about mistakes made, but that there had been a culture of defensiveness within the health service.

The minister also said that the HSE continued to dispute some of the findings of a damning investigation carried out by HIQA, the health standards watchdog. 

However, he said both the HSE and his department had accepted all of HIQA's recommendations.

Meanwhile, the minister has said there is no need for a HIQA investigation into baby deaths at Cavan hospital.

Internal hospital documents - seen by the Sunday Independent - show increasing fears over patient safety among the maternity unit's senior consultants.

The warnings come as it emerged the deaths of four babies at the hospital are being investigated, including a baby who died during a Caesarean section delivery last week.

Two other baby deaths were also reviewed internally by the hospital and there have also been at least four other "near death" incidents which the hospital did not believe required further investigation.

A medical review is underway, but the Health Minister has insisted there is no need for HIQA to investigate the maternity unit at Cavan.