Bereaved Couple Criticise HSE Apology

A couple, who were recently read an apology by the HSE expressing regret for the death of their newborn, have publicly criticised the organisation for the six-year delay in apologising.

Caoimhe Mulcair was born at the Midland Regional Hospital on the 11th February 2009 to Joan and John Mulcair, a couple from Corbally, Limerick. Caoimhe was eagerly anticipated by her parents, who had been trying for a child for many years before her birth. However, just thirty-nine minutes after her delivery, Caoimhe tragically died in her mother’s arms.

Earlier this month, an inquest was held concerning  the circumstances of Caoimhe’s death. There, medical experts gave evidence that she had suffered a lack of oxygen to her brain in utero and that, during her mother’s labour, it was noted that the foetus’ heartbeat was slowing.

Following established recommendations, the jury at the inquest ruled that Caoimhe’s death was due to medical misadventure. Before this ruling, however, Joan and John were read a statement by Collette Cowan, the Chief Executive of the Midland Regional Hospital, which apologised for baby Caoimhe’s death.

Yet Joan and John publicly refused to accept the apology, claiming that it had been delivered six years too late. After the conclusion of the inquest, John expressed his disgust that the HSE had put “an ordinary decent family through the pain and torment we had to endure for over six years”.

John went on the comment that, for years after his daughter’s death, the HSE refused to accept any responsibility for her death until last December, where they finally conceded liability and settled the family’s claim for bereavement compensation.

However, the HSE reported that it did not have control over medical negligence cases, and that the State Claims Agency handled cases such as that of the Mulcair’s. This comment, too, was criticised by a columnist for the Irish Times, who wrote that “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.”

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