Health Minister James Reilly has said that the much-derided HSE inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar must go ahead in order to “reassure” both local women and Government officials that University Hospital Galway is safe.
Speaking briefly during a visit to Merlin Park Hospital this morning, Minister Reilly welcomed the announcement that HIQA have also confirmed an investigation into the fatal incident last month but said that the HSE review must also proceed.
“The clinical review will continue because it must do. So we have to reassure the women using Galway Hospital that it’s safe. And we have to satisfy ourselves of that too. That’s moving ahead at pace and it will be finished very shortly. The information that they gather can then be used by HIQA,” he said.
The Minister also dismissed observations that the HIQA inquiry would be in any way compromised or biased towards the Health Service Executive.
“I think that will be a very positive development and would add another dimension to this and certainly HIQA have form in this area, in terms of been utterly independent and doing extensive investigations that often cover much more than just the core issue. And obviously the core issue here is how the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar occurred and if anything could be done to prevent it.”
When pressed on Savita’s husband Praveen’s continued calls for an independent public inquiry, the Fine Gael Minister said that further action may be taken in the future, depending on what the HSE inquiry “throws up”.
“Mr Halappanavar is having, I would have thought, a very difficult, difficult time. He has lost his wife, his beloved, and I wouldn’t want to say a single word that would make his suffering any more that it already is.
“I have out ruled nothing. I am merely saying that one thing we must do is that we must get tot he truth of what happened here to assure ourselves that we have a safe service for all our citizens.”
Minister Reilly also revealed that he had met with the Indian Ambassador, who was a “very reasonable and reasoned man”, and did not envisage any diplomatic incident arising in the future.
Health watchdog HIQA confirmed this morning that it will carry out an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Savita Halappanavar’s death.
The Board of the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) said that it decided to investigate the case following a request from the HSE, with a focus on the safety, quality and standards of services provided at University Hospital Galway (UHG) to “critically ill patients, including critically ill pregnant women as reflected in the care and treatment provided to Savita Halappanavar”.
The terms of reference and membership of the investigation team will be published when finalised.