Consultants axed from death inquiry
Published 19/11/2012 | 16:48
Health chiefs in Ireland have bowed to demands to axe three consultants from a high-level inquiry into the death of a pregnant Indian woman in hospital.
Praveen Halappanavar, whose wife Savita died in Galway University Hospital on October 28 after a miscarriage, had refused to co-operate unless the senior doctors were removed.
All three are employed by the west of Ireland hospital which sparked fears of a conflict of interest.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny urged Mr Halappanavar to support the inquiry after the embarrassing U-turn on what was the first day of the investigation.
"The three doctors will not be part of the investigation and therefore different personnel who are competent, who are experienced and who have no connection to Galway University Hospital will be appointed," said Mr Kenny.
Ministers had previously committed that the inquiry would stand up to world scrutiny.
Mr Halappanavar expressed concerns over the Health Service Executive (HSE) plan and argued that the inquiry would not be fully independent. He has claimed that his 31-year-old wife was refused an abortion as she miscarried 17 weeks into her pregnancy.
His lawyers threatened not to allow access to Mrs Halappanavar's medical notes and in response to the botched plans for the review panel they demanded a public inquiry with an opportunity to cross-examine medics.
A rights watchdog, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), backed calls for an independent inquiry. ICCL director Mark Kelly said: "Although headed by an external chair, this remains an internal HSE investigation into the conduct of persons employed by the HSE."
The group said that the best way to involve Galway hospital staff was to call them as witnesses, not give them positions on the review board.