Some services at the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise could cease, in the wake of today's highly critical report by the Health Information and Quality Authority.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said that an action plan for the hospital will be devised in the coming weeks.

He said services which do not have enough patients to support them will be discontinued.

Minister Varadkar said that on occasions, patient safety and quality came second to other interests at the hospital, whether these were institutional, corporate, staff or political.

He said this needed to change, not just at Portlaoise but in the whole health service.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Irish Nurses and Midwives' Organisation in Trim, he said he accepts in full the HIQA findings and recommendations.

He described some of the stories in the report as "really awful" and said there was no excuse for a lack of honesty or compassion, or lack of teamwork, things which did not cost money and were about professional standards.

The 208 page report has criticised not only the maternity services but says the Intensive Care Unit is not fit for purpose and has raised questions about the Emergency Department.

HIQA said it cannot conclude that services at the hospital are safe.

The report does not name people and there are no findings against individuals.

It recommends a separate patient advocacy group from the HSE, to ensure patients' experiences are recorded, listened to and learned from.

The watchdog will appear next week before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health to discuss today's report.

HSE points to better management

Elsewhere, the HSE Director General Tony O'Brien said the organisation accepts the eight recommendations issued in the HIQA report and it is committed to their implementation.

He said new life has been breathed into the hospital with better management arrangements being put in place.

Mr O'Brien said complex cases are now being transferred to other hospitals such as The Coombe maternity hospital in Dublin.

He said substantial change was made last year and more will be done to improve the maternity services.

Patients' experiences

A member of the report investigation team has said there was no compassion shown to some women who lost their children.

Patient Advocate, Margaret Murphy said they interviewed eight women whose babies died.

Some women told HIQA they learned of their babies death on the corridor with no psychological support.

Some were reprimanded for crying before they were shown their babies bodies in tin boxes wheeled in by mortuary staff.

The father of a baby who died at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise, said he was not shocked by the finding that services at the hospital are not safe.

Mark Molloy said if the Oireachtas Health Committee does not get the necessary answers, there should be a public inquiry.

He said no key stakeholder had covered themselves in glory regarding the controversy, saying they knew what was going on, yet did nothing.

The HIQA inquiry followed an RTÉ Investigations Unit report last year into the deaths of five babies at the hospital.