Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Ceisteanna (1759, 1760)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

1759. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to an organisation (details supplied) being approached to carry out an independent assessment of a termination case in The National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33986/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

1760. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health his views on whether it is acceptable that The National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, will only communicate through a senior counsel to a couple that had their baby terminated under circumstances that may have breached current legislative protocol; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33987/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1759 and 1760 together.

I assume the Deputy’s question has been raised in relation to the recent case concerning the termination of a pregnancy in the National Maternity Hospital.  I am, of course, aware of this matter it but it would be inappropriate for me to comment on an individual case. 

Nonetheless, as I have previously made clear, when a serious incident that requires investigation occurs within the health service, I am strongly of the view that the establishment of an independent review is the appropriate way forward in order to ascertain the facts of the case.

I have been advised that steps are now being taken to have an independent review of this case undertaken.  I understand that the organisation the Deputy has referred to was approached by the National Maternity Hospital and identified international experts to act as chair and co-chair of the review.  A panel of external experts has been appointed and includes members with the appropriate medical expertise to allow for a full understanding of the facts to be developed. The review is being chaired by a clinical expert from outside the jurisdiction.  My Department has been advised that the review panel also includes a Senior Counsel among its membership to provide input regarding the specific requirements of Irish law in relation to termination of pregnancy. The importance of enabling the participation of patients in any such review is also well established and the panel includes a patient representative.

In accordance with the HSE's Incident Management Framework 2018, the review panel provides the highest level of independence under that Framework, in that the panel members are all external to the National Maternity Hospital and Hospital Group.  Furthermore, the majority of panel members are external to the Irish health service.

It is important that the family concerned are at the centre of the review process and I expect that the couple involved to be facilitated in engaging with the review and communicating directly with the chair of the review panel if they so wish, as would be normal practice in such reviews. 

It is imperative now that the review panel progresses its work as expeditiously as possible.  I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to all members of the House to await the results of that review, which will allow for a better understanding of what has occurred. It will also allow for any learning that may emerge to be disseminated in our maternity services and more widely throughout the health system.