AIMS Ireland are saddened, but not surprised, to see the news break in the media of the deaths of several newborn babies in Cavan General Hospital. Ongoing and unaddressed underfunding and understaffing of maternity units across the country, particularly smaller units, is undoubtedly a key factor in this tragedy. However the wider issue of general lack of accountability across the maternity services is at its core.
Commenting, AIMS Ireland chair Krysia Lynch said, “AIMS Ireland has been raising concerns about the safety of practice in Cavan General for several years now with both the HSE and the media and has been sadly completely ignored. Could subsequent deaths of babies have been avoided had our concerns been taken on board?
AIMS Ireland have also highlighted potentially avoidable deaths in other units across the country. Further commenting, Ms. Lynch added, “While it is certain that there will be widespread attempts to paint this as an issue of a smaller unit, the fact is that this is far from confined to Cavan General. AIMS Ireland is aware of other tragically avoidable deaths and serious birth injuries happening in major units across the country also. These deaths are unjustifiable in the Ireland of the 21st century; women, babies and families deserve far more than the constant understaffing and subsequent damage, trauma and loss they are faced with in our maternity units.”
Lynch also pointed out, “Furthermore, closing of units that serve rural areas in favour of forcing women in labour to travel for several hours to a larger unit is not the solution, and is certainly not women centred. Diverting women in labour from Cavan General to one of the Dublin units will not improve outcomes for women or babies. All Dublin maternity units are already stretched beyond their capacity, and diverting women and babies there will only serve to increase the pressure. It will certainly lead to both more babies being born on the sides of roads and to the increased pressure on women to agree to early inductions of labour. , High induction rates are often associated with high caesearean section rates. Ireland already has an ever increasing section rate, currently just shy of 30% The pressure of coping with an increased number of births combined with high rates of c-sections on our ill-functioning hospitals will cost money but more importantly lives.”