May 21, 2024

HOSPITAL CRISIS: Serious problems identified with Kilkenny maternity unit

A NUMBER of serious issues have been identified with the maternity unit at St Luke’s General Hospital in recent months.

The deaths of two pregnant patients at the unit last year and in 2017 has prompted separate investigations and calls from a watchdog for our local maternity unit to change its operations.

A Health Services Executive (HSE) investigation into the deaths (one from flu and the other from an embolism) did not make any adverse findings about the standard of care provided to the two women. However, the HSE reports into the both cases called for changes to be made within the maternity unit.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) has also recommendation changes after inspectors visited St Luke’s as part of its review of all the country’s 19 maternity units, according to a report in The Irish Times this week.

Among its recommendations, Hiqa is seeking the urgent appointment of extra staff to the Kilkenny maternity ward. This week it was confirmed that one additional obstetrician is being recruited. And there are hopes a second post will also be approved, according to reports this week.

The high rate of caesarean sections in Kilkenny has also caused concern. During one month in 2017 the rate reached of caesarean births at St Luke’s reached almost 60% for first-time mothers. The rate of caesarean sections also surpassed 50% some months last year. According to its latest figures (March), the overall caesarean rate at the local maternity unit is 41%, more than double the 15% rate the World Health Organisation says rates should fall below.

Kilkenny is one of nine maternity units across the country not providing the new abortion service that began last January. Last week the four obstetricians in the unit at St Luke’s sparked controversy after it emerged that they wrote to the chief executive of Ireland East Hospital Group saying they had decided the hospital was not an “appropriate location for medical or surgical terminations”.


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