A Frightening Lack Of Empathy



From left:  James Walker, Mary Dunnion, Martin Turner and Phelim Quinn at today’s publication of the Patient Safety Investigation Report into services at Portlaoise Hospital in the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) offices, Dublin Tony O’Brien (above), Director General of the The Health Service Executive (HSE) at Dr Steevens’ Hospital this afternoon.

In Portlaoise Hospital, where a number of babies died in controversial circumstances, mothers and fathers received the remains of their newborns in a metal box on a wheelchair covered with a white sheet and pushed by mortuary staff.

In one case the box was not big enough and the dead baby boy was squeezed in, the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) revealed.

Another reported how hospital staff told her the practice [metal boxes] was in place to stop mothers becoming upset and others revealed how keepsakes of their babies were either not given back to them or returned incomplete.

A mother who lost a child but was reprimanded for crying on a ward with a medic telling her it would upset other mothers who had delivered healthy babies.In another instance staff avoided going into a grieving mother’s room after her baby had died.

Some said they were told their baby had been stillborn or died instantly at birth but documentation or reports obtained at a later date revealed conflicting information.

Portlaoise Hospital: Shock report claims dead baby was squeezed into metal box and given to parents (The Irish Daily Mirror)

HSE failed to act on Portlaoise patient safety risks, Hiqa says (Irish Times)

(Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)

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28 thoughts on “A Frightening Lack Of Empathy

          1. Don Pidgeoni

            I don’t see how asking if it happened elsewhere has any relevance to what has happened in Ireland. That’s distraction rather than addressing the issue.

            And if it had happened in the UK does that make it ok? That’s the implication.

          2. Joe the Lion

            It has a lot of relevance actually don. Systems and practices adopted there are often copied here.

          1. Don Pidgeoni

            “They use the bodies of aborted foetuses (correct spelling?) to heat hospitals.” Oh come on… how emotive.

            But sure, its fine, they did terrible things in the UK so its fine if we do them too.

          2. Don Pidgeoni

            Its fairly obvious the paper did that.

            “Hospital disposes of foetuses as clinical waste in incinerators” doesn’t have the same ring to it as “Dead babies heat hospital”.

            If you think this matters, tell these families that sure, its grand they did terrible things in the UK as well, aren’t you lucky you got your dead baby in a box and come back and tell me if they give a sh**.

          3. newsjustin

            This is all in relation to Joe the Lion’s (silly) point. Anything happening in the UK has no bearing on this. Agreed.

  1. JimmytheHead

    What really sickens me is that there are people – whole departments of people – working full time in permanent jobs to monitor this kind of behavior in hospitals around the country. Yet here we are, discussing it on the internet as if its somehow our job to draw attention to this so they’ll do something about it.

  2. phil

    A part of whats wrong here IMO, and people dont want to hear it, is that the pay and conditions and their unions are a corrupting public sector staff . There are possibly many in the PS , I know 2 definates who are not suitable for their jobs , hate it, and feel they cannot leave because of golden handcuffs and their productivity suffers because they cannot be moved on….

    This is by no means unique to the PS , I know plenty of people in the private sector who hate their jobs , do the minimum , and just feel they cant move on because of the golden handcuffs

    social mobility , we need to have a hard think about that …

    1. #Selfie Face

      Phil that’s f*$king bul”sh!t!!! How can you suggest that, you are a disgrace. That report is damning indictment of the practices in that hospital. You wouldn’t treat animals like that.

      1. Joe the Lion

        I think he is referring to an overall systemic failure and the root causes ( in his opinion ) of it. I didn’t really agree with him though either

    2. Atticus

      You could probably use that excuse for people lying on trolleys in corridors but you certainly can’t use it for people not using a basic lack of compassion and decency.

  3. LuvinLunch

    While all this was going on the HSE has been conducting a witch hunt against home birth midwife Philomena Canning and been putting up loads of soft barriers to booking a home birth..

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