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Birth rates increase in Portlaoise hospital despite national drop

Laois has bucked the trend of falling birth rates with the hospital in Portlaoise being one of only two in the country to show an increase in births last year.

Births in Midlands Retional Hospital Portlaoise went up from 1,485 in 2016 to 1,552 last year.

The only two maternity units to show an increase in births were in Portlaoise Hospital and Mullingar Hospital.

The maternity unit in Mullingar saw births rise upwards from 2,107 to 2,114 over the year.

The latest HSE figures for births in the 19 maternity units in the country estimate 61,902 babies were born last year – down from a high of 75,554 in 2009.

The increase of births in Portlaoise Hospital is welcome news for the hospital after it was the focus of major inquiries following the deaths of a number of babies at its maternity unit over a number of years.

Portlaoise Hospital Action Committee Secretary John Hanniffy,  responded to the figures on Midlands 103 saying: “We need politicians that are there to come out and say that Portlaoise hospital won’t be downgraded – ‘It needs to be upgraded – give me your vote and I will look after the hospital when I get in’. It needs to be upgraded

“Absolutely no way (should it be downgraded). You are in power, irrespective of what party it is. You are in power and have influence over what happens at the moment. If Michael Lowry can get €50 million for Clonmel, if Michael ‘Boxer’ Moran can get city status for Athlone, I don’t see any reason why any sort of an upgrade isn’t achievable for Portlaoise hospital,” Mr Hanniffy said.

The upswing in births at the hospital is a dramatic change from the recent decline when the annual birth rate at the hospital fell by 900 between 2010 and 2017.

Since the baby deaths controversy, a number of safeguards have been put in place at the maternity hospital.

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A journalist for over 20 years, David has worked for a number of regional titles both as journalist and editor. From Tullamore he also works as a content editor for Independent.ie. His heroes include Shane Lowry, Seamus Darby and Johnny Flaherty