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Disciplinary action in Savita case 'a cop out'

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Savita Halappanavar

Savita Halappanavar

Savita Halappanavar

DISCIPLINARY action taken against a number of staff at University Hospital Galway (UHG) following the death of Savita Halappanavar has been slammed as a "total whitewash".

The former chair of the West Health Forum, Cllr Padraig Conneely, criticised the actions taken, insisting they were not sufficient.

He added that suspensions and even dismissals should have been enforced by the hospital amongst the most senior staff members whose conduct was found to have merited disciplinary action.

Nine hospital staff involved in the care of Savita were disciplined after a review of her case. However, none were dismissed or suspended and all staff members continue to work at University Hospital Galway (UHG).

A further 21 staff members who were involved in caring for the young dentist were found to have "no case to answer". This includes staff in the hospital's ICU who were later praised for their care of Ms Halappanavar.

However, the disciplinary measures have been criticised by Mr Conneely who believes much stricter censure was required.

"It's a cop-out and it's a sham. The hospital had to be seen to do something after three independent reviews gave a damning review of the treatment of this young woman. But this is no where near sufficient," he added.

The HSE said the disciplinary action against almost all of the nine staff has now been completed. Some were required to undergo further training while others received written warnings.

"The disciplinary process in respect of most of the other nine staff is now complete. In some cases pre-procedural informal counselling with training and mentoring was applied, in others written warnings were issued. The process is still under way for a small number of staff," said a spokesperson for the West/North West Hospitals Group.

The written warnings are issued for a period of nine months and give details of the complaint along with the improvements required and the timescale for that improvement.

The hospital group said the disciplinary review was confidential and it would not release the names of those involved.

The solicitor for Savita's husband Praveen Halappanavar, Gerard O'Donnell, said neither he nor his client had been made aware of the disciplinary action.

Mr Halappanavar is still abroad on a mid-term work contract but is expected to return to Galway shortly.

"We had no idea that this had happened," he added.

Mr O'Donnell confirmed that a civil suit being taken by his client against the HSE and obstetrician Katherine Astbury was progressing.

"We are now waiting for the parties to put in their defence and we would expect that defence, whether it be an admission of liability or a denial of liability, to be in by October.

Savita (31) was 17 weeks pregnant and miscarrying when admitted to the hospital on October 21, 2012. She died seven days later on October 28 as a result of septicaemia caused by ecoli ESBL.

Irish Independent