Home birth service still suspended six months after Limerick mother’s death

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The late Laura Liston

THE suspension of home birth services in the Mid West region initiated by the University of Limerick Hospitals Group remains in place six months after the death of a first-time mother after a home birth in County Limerick.

A spokesman for the Hospitals Group confirmed that the temporary suspension of the HSE’s home birth service across Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary, which came into effect last June, is to continue “pending an external review following a recent maternal death”.

Laura Liston died after she gave birth to her first child, a son named Shay,  at her home in Dunnaman, Croom on June 5 last.

Ms Liston developed life-threatening health complications shortly after the home birth and was later pronounced dead at University Hospital Limerick after being rushed there by ambulance.

Following Ms Liston’s death, the University of Limerick Hospitals Group (ULHG) announced a temporary suspension of all HSE home birth services in the region.

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A response from ULHG confirmed that “all expert personnel have been identified” to conduct a review of the region’s home birth services.

The spokesman said this external review “has begun and is ongoing”.

The review, which is being conducted by midwifery and obstetrics experts, is examining patient safety, clinical governance, and any other issues arising.

ULGH added that it had made contact with six women who were due to have home births in the region under the HSE service from last June onwards.

“Six women have been contacted, all of whom have delivered,” the spokesman stated.

The suspension of the service means that women who had registered to have a home birth in the region were instead advised to attend the University Maternity Hospital Limerick (UMHL) until further notice.

The maternity hospital, which serves the Mid West region, delivered 4,294 babies last year.

There were 650 home-births nationally in 2021.

Expectant mothers in the Mid West continue to have the option of registering for a home birth service outside of the region while UMHL also accommodates home birth patients in the event of emergencies.

On June 24, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly described Ms Liston’s death as “an awful tragedy, just heartbreaking” and said the external review was, in his opinion, the right thing to do.

He added that the review would “look at the protocols to assure the review team and therefore be able to assure women in the region that the service has everything it needs to have”, adding “I want to see that report”.