Saturday 23 June 2018

National Maternity Hospital objects to Hiqa probe into Malak Thawley death

Malak Thawley, who died in Holles Street Maternity Hospital last May, pictured with her husband Alan
Malak Thawley, who died in Holles Street Maternity Hospital last May, pictured with her husband Alan

Eilish O’Regan

The National Maternity Hospital in Holles St is challenging the form of inquiry ordered by Health Minister Simon Harris into the death of Malak Thawley, saying it may have a "chilling" effect on doctors carrying out emergency surgery.

Ms Thawley died in the hospital in May 2016 after a major blood vessel was pierced during emergency surgery for an ectopic pregnancy.

The maternity hospital was granted leave to have a judicial review of the decision to give the external inquiry into the circumstances of her death to the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa).

In a statement today, the hospital said it is not objecting to an external inquiry but the particular type of review currently directed by the Minister for Health 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.

"Any such belief is not supported by the facts and is inconsistent with the investigation’s own terms of reference and runs contrary to the findings of the three reviews carried out to date."

The hospital said it is not objecting to an external inquiry but does not want an examination by Hiqa for this reason.

The hospital said it again apologises sincerely to Ms Thawley’s husband Alan Thawley, and her family and friends of the late.

"The Hospital has from the outset accepted responsibility and acknowledged liability."

The statement said the hospital is  "very open to assisting a further review of the circumstances surrounding this tragedy.

"We embrace opportunities for further learning, and have learned a great deal from the three reviews which have taken place since Ms Thawley’s death and have implemented recommendations from our own robust review.

"These recommendations were endorsed by the Coroner at the inquest, and a number have been incorporated into the National Maternity Strategy.  The three reviews have been consistent in their findings."

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