A clinical report carried out by the HSE into the death of Savita Halappanavar at University Hospital Galway could come before the Dáil “within weeks”.
Speaking to the Galway Independent this week, Praveen Halappanavar’s solicitor Gerard O’Donnell said a recent meeting with the Chairman of the Investigation Team, Professor Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, and deputy chairperson, Cora McCaughan of the HSE National Incident Management Team, had gone “very well”.
While Praveen did not attend the meeting, which took place at Merlin Park Hospital on Wednesday 15 May, his legal team used the opportunity to make several recommendations for changes to be made to the HSE report. These observations will now be brought to the committee for discussion before a final draft is sent to Health Minister James Reilly, who will then decide whether to bring the report to Cabinet.
Mr O’Donnell would not be drawn on the changes requested but revealed that he expected the final report to be with the Minister before the end of the current Dáil term.
“He [Professor Arulkamaran] is meeting his committee, so I wouldn’t like to pre-empt what he would ultimately bring over the line. They weren’t dramatic changes but there were some changes, certainly,” he said.
“We saw all the shortcomings in Savita’s case. At its worst, there were shortcomings at every level, so I would hope that this report, when it comes out, would make people sit up and ensure that something like this does not happen again.”
The Galway solicitor said he and Praveen would also make a decision on whether to pursue the case to the European Courts in the coming weeks.
“The next step going forward is for us to have a consultation now with Senior Counsel and see whether or not we will consider some action under the Constitution or whether we would consider whether the inquest or the Clinical Review together are sufficient to comply with Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights in terms of the investigation of the death. So we’ll decide that probably within the month,” he said.
A statement yesterday evening from HSE West confirmed that it expected the report to be finalised in the coming weeks and stated that steps had been taken to implement some of the recommendations given by Coroner Ciaran McLoughlin at the inquest into Savita’s death. However, it added that it was waiting for guidance to be available nationally on several other steps.
This stance was slammed by HSE Regional Forum Chairman Padraig Conneely, who said that he was not happy with the rate of progress being achieved by the health authority.
“I think they urgently need to be done. There’s no reason why they cannot be implemented very, very quickly, they are common sense approach type of recommendations and in order to avoid anything similar to what we saw happening during Savita Halappanavar’s time at the hospital and her sad death, I think it is a matter of urgency.”
Meanwhile, a Galway obstetrician has joined a group of medical personnel who have challenged the evidence given by Clinical Director of the National Maternity Hospital, Dr Peter Boylan at the recent inquest into Savita’s death.
In a open letter published in recent weeks, Dr John Monaghan of Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe joined ten other Irish consultants in suggesting that the evidence given by Dr Boylan stating that Irish law prevented necessary treatment to save Ms Halappanavar’s life was “a personal view, not an expert one”.
The letter said it was impossible for Dr Boylan, or any doctor, to “predict with certainty” the clinical course and outcome in the case where sepsis arose from multi drug-resistant organism, E.Coli ESBL.
It added that the facts produced at the inquest “show this tragic case to be primarily about the management of sepsis” and called on all obstetrical units in Ireland to reflect on the findings of the events and learn how to improve care.
“To reduce it to a polemical argument about abortion may lead to more, not fewer, deaths in the future,” it concluded.