HSE announces details of Savita Halappanavar investigation

Monday 19 November 2012 23.35
Savita Halappanavar's husband Praveen is being consulted
Savita Halappanavar's husband Praveen is being consulted

The Health Service Executive has announced details of the investigation into the death of Savita Halappanavar.

Ms Halappanavar died following a miscarriage at Galway University Hospital on 28 October.

The circumstances surrounding her death have been the subject of national and international attention.

The inquiry will aim to determine the facts of her death, identify contributory factors and make recommendations to try to prevent a similar incident occurring again.

The seven-member team will be chaired by Prof Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at St George's University of London.

Prof Arulkumaran said that over the next three days the team would review the case notes, look at guidelines and interview people.

Three members of the inquiry team are from Galway University Hospital, one member is from Cork University Hospital, one is a patient advocate and one is from the HSE National Incident Management Team.

Meanwhile, Savita Halappanavar's family have sent a letter to Minister for Health James Reilly seeking a full public inquiry into her death.

Gerard O'Donnell, the Galway-based solicitor representing the late Ms Halappanavar's husband Praveen, has confirmed that her family have called on the minister to launch a full public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding her death.

The solicitor said that he sent a letter to Mr Reilly outlining the reasons why the family want a public inquiry instead of "any private or confidential HSE inquiry."

Speaking about today's announcement about a HSE inquiry into her death he added: "We would prefer to wait and have a full public inquiry."

HSE inquiry to be completed within an "expeditious timeframe"

Prof Arulkumaran said that if the team is interviewing staff from Galway University Hospital, then consultants on the inquiry panel from Galway will be excused from those proceedings.

He said the reason for having three consultants from the hospital on the inquiry team was not so that they can give specific direction but to find out about the hospital's internal standard practices, if they have guidelines and if there are any deviations from these.

He said the type of antibiotics used can vary from hospital to hospital and the inquiry would like to establish how septicaemia was managed there.

The HSE said the investigation would be completed within an "expeditious timeframe".

Minister for Health James Reilly said the important thing is to establish the whole truth for Ms Halappanavar's family.

Mr Reilly said three months was a realistic timeframe for the inquiry to be completed.

He said Prof Arulkumaran is a man of extraordinary experience and is extremely well-qualified.

The investigation team will report to HSE National Director of Quality and Patient Safety, Dr Philip Crowley.

He said that the team will be in a position to analyse in complete detail the circumstances of the case, and uncover the root of Ms Halappanavar's untimely death.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, he said that Prof Arulkumaran is an internationally recognised leader in obstetrics and has conducted similar inquiries elsewhere.

"All of these investigations involve similar methodologies, all the case notes will be examined, all guidance available locally and internationally will be examined and benchmarked internationally through the professor's work."

Savita Halappanavar's husband has welcomed the announcement.

Speaking through a close friend, Sunil Koppori, in Galway, Praveen Halappanavar said he was deeply appreciative of the outpouring of support from around the country.

Mr Halappanavar is still said to be in great personal pain having just returned from India and is not ready to face the media.

Dutch MEP calls for parliament to pay respects

Dutch MEP has called on the European Parliament to pay its respects to Savita Halappanavar.

Liberal MEP Sophie in't Veld said Mrs Halappanavar had died unnecessarily from complications of pregnancy after being denied "an abortion which could have saved her".

She said it was a violation of human rights.

The President of the European Parliament Martin Schultz said he was also deeply disturbed, but that he could not comment on matters which were now sub judice.

However, he told the Dutch MEP that the applause she received demonstrated the attitude of the house.

Book of Condolence in Galway

A Book of Condolence has been opened by the Mayor of Galway in sympathy with Mr Halappanavar, with their family and friends and with the Indian Community in Galway.

It is available to be signed at Galway City Council's offices in City Hall, College Road, Galway, between 9am and 4pm until the end of the month.

There will be two further books of condolence available to sign at Westside Library and Ballybane Library from tomorrow morning at 11am.