Tuesday 21 October 2014

Savita Halappanavar: Husband insists he will not meet HSE inquiry chief

Fionnan Sheahan and Ed Carty

Published 21/11/2012 | 14:53

THE husband of Savita Halappanavar has repeated his insistence that he will not meet the chairman of an inquiry into his wife’s death following a miscarriage.

Praveen Halappanavar said in an interview to be broadcast tonight on RTE's Prime Time that he would not co-operate with an HSE-run inquiry.

"We are just not confident in the whole family about the HSE leading this investigation," he said.

"These people are salaried by the HSE. They pay them. We think that there would be some kind of bias during the investigation.

"We are requesting a public inquiry basically funded by the Irish Government."

Mr Halappanavar said he was not happy despite the three Galway consultants being removed from the inquiry team.

"With due respect to the head of the inquiry and the Taoiseach, we will not partake in the inquiry by the HSE," he said. "We want a public inquiry."

He added: "I have seen the way my wife was treated in the hospital so I have no confidence that the HSE will do justice. Basically I don't have any confidence in the HSE."

Mr Halappanavar said he went public with the story because there was no movement on an investigation or inquiry for two weeks after his wife's death.

"I had to answer the family back home. They just kept asking, 'have they taken any action?'. Everyone in the family were in shock. They could not believe it.

"It was such a simple case they could have just terminated her. They should have thought about the bigger life when they could not save the baby, why wait?"

Taoiseach Enda Kenny had earlier appealed for him to meet the chairman of an inquiry into his wife's death following a miscarriage.

Amid demands from Praveen Halappanavar for a public inquiry into the tragedy, the Taoiseach had urged the grieving widower to accept a request for no-prejudice discussions as the investigation begins.

"I think it's in everybody's interests, taking into account the sensitivity of what is under investigation here and trying to find out the truth, that he should be allowed to have a meeting," the Taoiseach said.

"The situation is that the feelings of Praveen were taken into account here because he did say that nobody from the hospital should be associated with this investigation, and nobody will.

"Everybody from the hospital to be spoken to as part of the investigation will be spoken to as witnesses. This is in everybody's interests."

Mrs Halappanavar died in Galway University Hospital on October 28 after suffering a miscarriage. She contracted septicaemia.

The investigation into her death was thrown into turmoil even before it got off the ground after the Health Service Executive (HSE) on Monday named three Galway hospital consultants on the inquiry panel.

Within 24 hours they had been axed amid concerns of a conflict of interest.

The inquiry chairman, internationally recognised Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at St George's, University of London, has offered face-to-face talks with Mr Halappanavar to address his concerns.

His solicitor Gerard O'Donnell had earlier dismissed calls for a meeting.

"To do so would be in some way to acquiesce with the investigation or the person appointed by the HSE to investigate," Mr O'Donnell told RTE Radio.

The legal team has also 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.

The expert panel chosen by the HSE should have launched its review yesterday.

The investigation team had intended to spend this week conducting intensive interviews with medics involved in Mrs Halappanavar's care.

The HSE has claimed that it was in contact with Mr Halappanavar's legal team from last Friday in an effort to be inform him of the make up of the review panel and the terms of the inquiry.

The inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar will have to make an interim report before Christmas.

The three new members of the inquiry team, to replace three consultants from Galway University Hospital, are to be announced.

The chairman, Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, will confirm the identity of the three new experts – one from outside Ireland and two from this country, but not based in Galway.

Health Minister Dr James Reilly has asked the chairman to produce an interim report in the coming weeks and certainly before Christmas.

Press Association

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