Inquiry sought into baby girl's death at Limerick Maternity

HSE expresses its 'deepest sympathies to the Arnold family on their great loss'

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Email:

anne.sheridan@limerickleader.ie

Inquiry sought into baby girl's death at Limerick maternity

Shane and Teresa Arnold, who lived in Ballyneety at the time

A COUPLE whose baby died six hours after her birth in the University Maternity Hospital in Limerick are calling on the Minister for Health to conduct an independent inquiry into their daughter’s “untimely” death.

Baby Eimear Arnold died on July 15, 2010, at 6.39am, six hours after she was born in the Maternity on the Ennis Road.

Her parents, Shane and Teresa Arnold, who lived in Ballyneety at the time, took a High Court case against the Health Service Executive (HSE), over the circumstances of the delivery of their daughter.

It was settled for €98,000 in November last, without an admission of liability by the HSE, which denied all their claims, eleven days before the case was due to go to a full hearing.

The Arnolds told the Limerick Leader that they agreed to settle as they feared that if they did lose the case, they would not be able to afford the legal costs, and feared losing their home.

In a statement to this newspaper, the HSE wished to express its “deepest sympathies to the Arnold family on their great loss.”

The family, who now live in county Louth, said that they cannot afford the costs associated with an inquest into Eimear’s death, and is calling on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to review the case.

“We were unhappy with the treatment we received in the days, weeks and months after Eimear’s death, and as we are not in a position to fund an inquest, we would like some kind of independently led inquiry that would be funded by the Government,” said the couple.

Solicitor Sonya Morrissy Murphy, of Keating Connolly Sellors, who has acted on behalf of the family for a number of years, told the Limerick Leader: “Teresa and Shane came to me looking for answers. They only ever wanted an explanation.

“Due to the system we have in Ireland, all I could offer them were legal remedies. Whilst they have been somewhat comforted by the expert opinions that we were able to procure, from some of the world’s most eminent medics in this area, they merely wanted an enquiry, analysis and honest evaluation of what caused them to lose their beautiful baby.

"Teresa and Shane fail to understand how there is no requirement for a mandatory independent inquiry in cases such as this. It may well avoid protracted litigation,” said Ms Morrissy Murphy.

Data provided to the Limerick Leader from the HSE shows that the perinatal death rate in the Maternity hospital ranges from 4.4 per 1,000 births, with 5,169 births in 2011, which has reduced in each successive year.

Figures for 2010, the year in which Eimear died, are not available.

The HSE also confirmed that within this five-year time-period 940 structured counselling sessions were provides for women, couples and families at UMHL. 

Anonymised data, compiled by the National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre in University College Cork, and reported by the 20 Irish maternity units, shows that there were a total of 504 deaths in 2014 arising from 67,663 births.

Stillbirths, early neonatal and late neonatal deaths accounted for 330 (65.5%), 141 (28.0%) and 33 (6.5%) of the 504 deaths, respectively.

The perinatal mortality rate was seven deaths per 1,000 births; corrected for congenital malformation, the rate was 4.7 per 1,000 births; the stillbirth rate was 4.9 per 1,000 births; and, the early neonatal death rate was 2.1 per 1,000 live births. 

The mothers who experienced perinatal loss in 2014 ranged in age from teenage years through to early-forties. Over half of the population (56.1%) who gave birth in 2014 were aged 25-34 years. 

 - See the Limerick Leader for the full interview with Shane and Teresa Arnold