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Saolta has to publish University Hospital Galway newborns inquiry


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Saolta has to publish University Hospital Galway newborns inquiry

A member of the HSE’s Regional Health Forum West has urged University Hospital Galway to fully communicate details about a review into head injuries suffered by newborn babies to alleviate fears for prospective parents.

Last week, it emerged that external experts had been drafted into to conduct the probe into “a cluster” of subgaleal haemorrhage cases that were logged with the National Incident Management System (NIMIS) last year. The Saolta Hospital Group – which operates Galway’s public hospitals – said in all of the cases the babies were “discharged home well from hospital”.

A subgaleal hemorrhage is an accumulation of blood that forms between a newborn’s skull and the skin on their scalp. According to the HSE’s Newborn Clinical Examination Handbook, the condition is very rare and can be life-threatening, leading to acute blood loss.

County councillor Dr Evelyn Francis Parsons, who is a member of the HSE’s Regional Health Forum West, said she has contacted the HSE to urge Saolta to act swiftly to provide a communication briefing with accurate information on the details surrounding the review and to inform public representatives on the circumstances.

“It is unacceptable to be kept in the dark on such a concerning issue and to be made aware of this through the media,” she stated.

“The wellbeing of mothers and infants during childbirth is of paramount importance and any significant rate of birth trauma deserves thorough investigation. It is essential that information is forthcoming promptly to deal transparently and sensitively with queries from concerned public and media. This can only be achieved through access to the complete information underpinning this review.”

The medical doctor who works in community healthcare said news of a review can be extremely worrying for parents, families and especially those receiving antenatal care and awaiting birth of their babies.

“The information vacuum directly impacts on assessment of the issue and dealing with the public’s legitimate concerns. Proper supports, open communication and compassionate practices are needed to deal with those families whose babies are subject to the review and also to support and to deal with queries and concerns of the public.”

In response to queries from Dr Francis Parsons, the HSE sent the same statement to her as issued to the Galway City Tribune, stating that a review was ongoing but giving no details on how many incidents were involved.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly told RTE there was “a small cluster” of cases and all the parents had been informed.

Fianna Fáil City Councillor John Connolly, who also sits on the Regional Health Forum, said it was very distressing for the families.

“I note that the review was instigated by Saolta’s Women and Children’s Managed Clinical and Academic Network. This does indicate that oversight practices in the hospital are functioning, though in no way diminishes the concerns that families must have,” he stated.

“The participation of external experts in the review is very important. It would be beneficial if the report highlighted the specific time period under investigation and the number of childbirths being reviewed.

“There is an urgency in bringing this review to a conclusion to reassure patients of the safety of services at UHG. There should be no question as to the services provided to the children involved, so as to ensure there is no lasting impact,” said Cllr Connolly.

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