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Couple Reject HSE Apology for the Death of Newborn Child

A couple from Limerick has rejected an HSE apology for the death of their newborn child, saying that the Health Service Executive´s apology is six years too late.

On 11th February 2009, baby Caoimhe was born to Joan and John Mulcair from Corbally in Limerick after the couple had tried for many years to have a child. Tragically, Caoimhe died 39 minutes later in her mother´s arms.

At last week´s inquest into Caoimhe´s death, the jury heard that a lack of blood and oxygen supply to the baby´s brain had been identified and, that during Joan´s labour, a deceleration of the foetal heartbeat had been recorded.

In line with the coroner´s recommendations, the jury returned a verdict of death by medical misadventure – prior to which the court had heard an HSE apology for the death of the newborn child read out by Collette Cowan, the chief executive of the Midland Regional Hospital in Limerick where Caoimhe was born.

However, Caoimhe´s parents rejected the HSE apology for the death of a newborn child, saying that it had come six years too late. Speaking outside the Limerick courthouse, an emotional John said that it was a disgrace that the HSE had put “an ordinary decent family through the pain and torment we had to endure for over six years”.

John explained to reporters that the HSE had denied that there had been any failure to provide an acceptable standard to Caoimhe before, during or after her birth – until liability for her death was admitted last December, and a settlement of the family´s compensation claim was agreed.

In response, the HSE said it had no control over cases involving medical negligence, which are handled by the State Claims Agency. However, the passing of the buck was described as a “shabby episode” by a columnist in the Irish Times, who wrote:

“A common interest links the HSE and the claims agency and there has been a persistent pattern of denial, prevarication and years of unnecessary delay in dealing with medical claims. The public and aggrieved patients deserve better. So do the vast majority of medical professionals.”