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HSE won’t reveal UHG report on newborns who suffered head injuries

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has refused to publish a review into concerns about newborn babies delivered at University Hospital Galway who had suffered head injuries.

The review of UHG Maternity Services was ordered after management identified an increase in incidents of subgaleal haemorrhage of new-born babies in 2022 compared with the previous year.

The increase in cases was “well within the reported range in international literature” but was significant enough to trigger concerns.

The audit looked at nine cases and was conducted by the HSE, independently of Saolta University Healthcare Group, which runs UHG. It concluded all cases were “mild or minor”.

Galway County Councillor Evelyn Parsons (Ind) said for “public confidence and transparency” the review should be published.

She asked if there were any changes made at UHG on foot of the review; and questioned whether it was an independent review, given that it was the HSE that carried it out.

Tony Canavan Regional Executive Officer, for HSE West and Northwest, said the “transparency requirement has been met”.

He said the nine families involved had been engaged with and had received a copy of their own individual audits.

They were not given results of the other eight audits but were “aware of the context” of why they were carried out, he said.

Pushed by Cllr Parsons about openness and transparency, Mr Canavan said: “We don’t intend publishing it, no”.

“We engaged directly with the people involved,” he added at the HSE West Regional Health Forum meeting.

In his written reply, Mr Canavan said the aim of the audit was to provide insights into trends, root causes, and potential areas of improvement.

“It found that apart from the occurrence of instrumental vaginal delivery, there were no other apparent causative factors. Different senior obstetricians were present at all deliveries, including members of the consultant staff. These infants were admitted to the neonatal unit for observation.

“None of the infants had hypovolaemia, tachycardia, hypotension, or a requirement for blood transfusion, and all were well on discharge. All these cases were considered mild,” he said.

Mr Canavan insisted the “audit had not identified any specific issue of concern”, but Saolta asked the HSE’s National Women’s and Infant’s Health Programme to complete an independent clinical care review of all nine cases.

“The review has now been completed and shared with the families involved. The review found that all the cases were in the mild or minor category,” he added.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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