Monday 23 July 2018

Husband of tragic Malak 'shocked' by hospital's inquiry move

Alan and Malak Thawley were expecting their first child
Alan and Malak Thawley were expecting their first child

Eilish O'Regan and Tim Healy

The husband of the late Malak Thawley, who died during emergency surgery at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dublin, is hurt and in shock at the decision to legally challenge the manner of an inquiry into her death without any notice.

Alan Thawley received no warning that solicitors for the hospital were to go to the High Court yesterday seeking a judicial review of the decision to give the inquiry to the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa), his solicitor Caoimhe Haughey said last night.

"Failure to provide notice is disrespectful. Mr Thawley feels a deep sense of shock and is hurt," she added.

Ms Thawley (34) died after a major blood vessel was pierced during emergency surgery for an ectopic pregnancy in May 2016. Mr Thawley lobbied Health Minister Simon Harris for an independent inquiry.

Chilling

In the High Court yesterday the hospital was granted leave for a judicial review of the decision to ask Hiqa to carry it out, saying this will have a "chilling effect" on the operation of maternity services.

Paul Gallagher SC, for the hospital, said it was their case the minister was acting outside his powers in ordering a new inquiry in circumstances where three other reports into the death of Ms Thawley had already taken place, one by the hospital itself, another by the HSE and there was also the coroner's report.

The hospital's own review had resulted in the implementation of changes to ensure there is no recurrence of the Thawley tragedy.

The minister had fettered his discretion by telling Mr Thawley that whatever about the HSE report, Mr Harris would still order an inquiry into the matter. This was effectively giving a third party the discretion as to whether an investigation would be ordered, counsel said.

In a statement the hospital said it is not objecting to an external inquiry, but the particular type of review currently directed by the minister, which would be carried out under Section 9.2 of the Health Act.

The hospital said a section 9 review will "without justification, undermine clinical and public confidence and could be counter-productive in its effect on national maternity services".

"We believe that this particular form of review will have a chilling effect on clinicians' ability to deliver high-risk and emergency care in an already challenging environment, both at hospital and nationally."

This is because the section can be used only when the minister believes there is "a serious risk to patients".

The hospital claimed: "This conveys to our staff and our patients that the minister believes that emergency surgical practice in this hospital outside 'core hours' is unsafe."

It is not opposed to a fourth investigation and suggested an independent expert body, such as the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the UK, should carry it out. The case returns to court in March.

Irish Independent

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