The three University Hospital Galway consultants appointed to the Savita Halappanavar investigation team have been removed and will be replaced with alternatives.
As the Galway Independent went to print, a HSE spokesperson confirmed that Prof John J Morrison, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Dr Catherine Fleming, Consultant in Infectious Diseases, and Dr Brian Harte, Consultant in Anaesthetics will not take part in the enquiry into Ms Halappanavar’s death at UHG last month.
The move came to light yesterday afternoon when An Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced in the Dáil that Minister for Health James Reilly had ordered the Health Service Executive to revise the composition of the team.
This was later confirmed by a HSE spokesperson, who said the agency was in the process of “identifying suitable replacements in the relevant clinical disciples”.
Savita’s husband Praveen Halappanavar had earlier spoken of his dissatisfaction with the line-up, saying the involvement of staff members at the hospital would compromise the impartiality of the investigation.
Mr Halappanavar arrived back in Ireland last weekend and, in an interview with a national newspaper yesterday, threatened to block access to his wife’s medical records if changes were not made to the HSE investigation team.
It was announced on Monday that Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, an independent expert from the UK, would lead the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Savita.
Ms Halappanavar died just days after being admitted to UHG suffering from a miscarriage. Mr Halappanavar has claimed that, once it became clear that the foetus would not survive, he and his wife repeatedly requested that the pregnancy be terminated.
However, the couple were allegedly told this was not possible as a foetal heartbeat could still be detected and Savita died a few days later.
Three new consultants from outside UHG will now be appointed to the investigating team, alongside Ms Cora McCaughan of the HSE National Incident Management Team, Mc Cathriona Molloy, Service User Advocate, and Ms Geraldine Keohane, Director of Midwifery at Cork University Hospital.
The final report of the Investigation Team will be provided to the HSE’s National Director of Quality and Patient Safety Dr Philip Crowley, who this week said that time must now be given to the Investigation Team to conduct their enquiries “before drawing any conclusions”. He urged the public to remember that Ireland’s maternity services are “of a very high standard”.
“It is important that we ascertain the full facts of what occurred in this case and take all necessary steps that may be needed to be taken to prevent or minimise the risk of a similar incident occurring again,” he said.
“To do this, we have an Investigation Team comprising of leading experts with vast experience across the range of clinical disciplines relevant to this tragic case. Under the Chairmanship of Sir Arulkumaran, we will have a thorough, independent and expeditious review of the facts surrounding the tragic death of Ms Halappanavar.”