A number of families affected by the ongoing review of maternity services at Portiuncula Hospital in Co Galway have criticised as "insensitive" its proposed publication date.

In recent correspondence, the Saolta University Health Care Group, which oversees the management of Portiuncula, informed families that it expects to share the long-awaited review with them in the week before Christmas.

Now approaching the third anniversary of the commissioning of the review, the families who say they are already very frustrated at ongoing delays, have expressed their dismay on learning of the latest proposed date of publication.

They include Lorraine and Warren Reilly, whose daughters Asha and Amber died at Portiuncula Hospital in 2008 and 2010.

They said: "It would seem there was a sheer lack of compassion when considering the effect on families when they receive the report for their consideration.

"Christmas, as any right-minded person can imagine, is a very difficult time of the year for a family who has suffered the loss of a child, so to expect a parent to sit down and read a report pertaining to that loss in the days before Christmas is thoughtless at best."

The family, who have written to Saolta to express their concerns, say they have yet to receive a response on the matter.

The review, which will examine a total of 18 cases, is being chaired by Professor James Walker of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Leeds.