Posted: September 18th, 2013
A senior consultant has claimed that more doctors will reduce cerebral palsy cases in Ireland and has called on the Health Service Executive to address the problem.
Dr Sam Coulter-Smith – Master of the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin – made the claim while addressing a conference organised to hear from the medical profession, solicitors and families who have suffered the consequences of cerebral palsy on how cerebral palsy cases in Ireland could be reduced.
Delegates heard that the number of babies suffering cerebral palsy injuries each year had remained unchanged for the past twenty years despite technological advances leading to more accurate foetal monitoring and more deliveries being performed by Caesarean section.
He felt that a significant number of cerebral palsy cases in Ireland could be avoided if experienced senior doctors were available twenty-four hours a day, and not just “on call” after their contracted hours of 8.00pm – when they could be many miles away when a medical emergency occurs.
Dr Coulter-Smith said that decisions relating to the health of a mother and baby were being left to junior doctors when consultants were not immediately available and “there needs to be twenty-four hour cover of labour wards by senior doctors to address this problem.”
The doctor continued by explaining the situation at his own hospital where a second tier of experienced junior doctors had been formed to provide emergency cover when a consultant was not available. He admitted that the establishment of a second level was contrary to the advice given by the Health Service Executive to reduce the number of medical staff working at the hospital, but informed the conference that the State currently spends €45 million annually on compensation for cerebral palsy cases in Ireland – a figure equivalent to the Rotunda Hospital´s operating budget for an entire year.