Thursday 18 January 2018

Pregnancy death inquiry team named

Savita Halappanavar died in October, 17 weeks into her pregnancy (The Irish Times/PA)
Savita Halappanavar died in October, 17 weeks into her pregnancy (The Irish Times/PA)

Four consultants from outside Ireland will lead the independent health watchdog inquiry into the death of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) has confirmed Dr Paul Fogarty, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Ulster Hospital, Belfast, and Dr Nuala Lucas, consultant anaesthetist at Northwick Park in England, on the panel.

They will work alongside Denise Boulter, midwife consultant at Northern Ireland's Public Health Agency, and Dr Bharat Patel, consultant medical microbiologist with the UK's Health Protection Agency.

Two Irish members were also named - Dr Robert Cunney, consultant microbiologist with the Health Protection Surveillance Centre and Temple Street children's hospital in Dublin, and lay member Loretta Evans, a patient safety champion who campaigned for reform after her son Colin died in hospital in 2005 six weeks after surgery.

Health Minister Dr James Reilly has approved the review team and one other member has to be finalised.

Ms Halappanavar, 31, died on October 28, 17 weeks into her pregnancy. She miscarried and subsequently suffered septicaemia, and her husband claims that doctors refused to carry out an abortion because a foetal heartbeat was present. He says they were told Ireland "is a Catholic country".

Hiqa said its inquiry will examine "the safety, quality and standards of services provided by the HSE to patients, including pregnant women, at risk of clinical deterioration and as reflected in the care and treatment provided to Savita Halappanavar".

Hiqa has committed to publishing the findings of its inquiry. It will review the safety, quality and standards of services provided at Galway University Hospital, where Ms Halappanavar was seen.

Her husband Praveen has refused to co-operate with it or the internal HSE investigation. He has threatened to take the Government to the European courts in pursuit of a public inquiry.

Meanwhile, the Government has committed to legislate and introduce regulations to allow abortion if there is a real and substantial risk to a woman's life, including the threat of suicide.

Press Association

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