An independent inquiry into the safety and quality of care at Mallow General Hospital in Cork is to be set up.

It follows complaints made to the Health Information and Quality Authority about the hospital.

The hospital has 76 beds and serves a population of around 90,000 people.

The inquiry will be conducted by HIQA and the terms of reference are due to be announced next week.

The inquiry is being established under Section 9 of the Health Act 2007 and both the Health Service Executive and the Minister for Health Mary Harney have been notified.

In 2008, a HIQA inquiry into care at the Mid-West Regional Hospital in Ennis recommended that 24-hour emergency department services and acute surgery cease at the facility.

The HSE has welcomed the independent investigation by HIQA into safety and the quality of care at Mallow General Hospital.

The Executive said that independent inspection was an important function in ensuring the highest quality and standards for patients.

It said many of the issues identified at the hospital have been dealt with and other issues are being addressed as part of a comprehensive plan.