Midwives of Ireland warn of another Savita tragedy

Midwives of Ireland warn of another Savita tragedy

Midwives and nurses in Ireland have warned that staff shortages at maternity units in the country could lead to a repeat of system failures that were blamed for Savita Halappanavar’s death.

The 31-year-old dentist died last year, after a miscarriage.

An inquest into her death last month was told how the medical team missed the early signs of blood poisoning that eventually killed her.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation’s delegate conference in Donegal, Ireland, this week has heard that a moratorium on staff recruitment could lead to another similar tragedy.

According to the ‘Irish Examiner,’ Anne Burke, a clinical nurse manager at University Hospital Galway, told the conference that maternity units were “winging it, every single day, in order to maintain some semblance of service to ante and post-natal women”.

On a shoe-string

“Ireland’s midwifery profession is, on a daily basis, holding the Irish maternity services together, but only on a shoestring,” Burke said.

She pointed out that maternity units like CUMH, which has a birth rate in the order of 9,000 per year, have been grossly understaffed, despite a Labour Court recommendation in February 2011 to employ at least 80 additional midwives in order to maintain safe practice.

The nurse added the persistence of the moratorium, coupled with the loss of midwifery expertise due to retirements in February 2012, had left the national midwifery workforce “on its knees.”

Meanwhile, legal representatives for Savita’s husband will later this week meet the head of a health service investigation into the circumstances leading to the death of his wife.

Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar, who will not be attending the meeting, had postponed the discussions with Prof Sabaratnam Arulkmaran until after the inquest into Savita’s death, which concluded last month that she died of medical misadventure.

It is expected to finally pave the way for the publication of a long-awaited internal report into Savita’s death last year.

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