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29th Mar 2019

Simon Harris announces independent review into deaths of mum and newborn at Cork hospital

There were just three nurses looking after 31 mothers on the ward.

Anna O'Rourke

An independent review is to be carried out after the deaths of a woman and her newborn son at Cork University Maternity Hospital this week, the Health Minister has announced.

Limerick woman Marie Downey died after an apparent fall on Monday morning in a private room in the hospital.

Her newborn son Darragh was injured in the fall and lost his fight for life on Tuesday evening.

It has emerged this week that there were just three midwives caring for 31 new mothers at the time of the incident.

Midwives at the hospital, who have repeatedly complained about staffing levels are said to be upset by the deaths, the Irish Times reports.

As well as staff, the review will look at why Ms Downey, an epilepsy sufferer, was put in a single room and whether the cot sides on her bed, which are used to keep a patient from falling out, were raised at the time of her fall.

The hospital has described the deaths as a “tragic occurrence” and announced that it would be carrying out its own investigation into what happen.

Announcing the review, Minister Simon Harris said that such an investigation is now standard in cases like this.

He also offered his condolences to the family of Ms Downey.

“This is an extraordinary tragedy,” he said.

“It is just so upsetting and devastating to have a mother and her newborn son pass away in one of our hospitals.”

The funeral of Ms Downey and baby Darragh in Ballyagran, Co Limerick on Saturday.