Hospital staff involved in the care of Savita Halappanavar have suffered abuse from the public and the media, it has been claimed.
A statement, which was issued in the name of hospital chief operating officer Tony Canavan said: “As you may be aware, University Hospital Galway has apologised to Mr Halappanavar and his family for the events related to his wife’s care that contributed to her tragic, unexpected and untimely death,” said Mr Cavanan.
“This was the first direct maternal death at the hospital in 17 years. From the very beginning, we have followed all of the legal and medical requirements arising from such a tragic incident and we have cooperated fully with Mr Halappanavar’s legal representatives, with the Coroner and with the HSE and HIQA investigations.
“As you will appreciate, the untimely death of a young expectant mother caused deep upset among hospital staff, particularly those who were directly involved in her care who were saddened and shocked by her tragic death.
“The distress of some of these staff members has been exacerbated by verbal and written abuse from members of the public and by the behaviour of some members of the media, albeit a very small minority.
“Overall the media through the individual journalists who have covered this tragic event have been respectful of the staff involved.
“We ask that in the days ahead this respect for our staff is maintained.
“Individual staff will be giving evidence at the inquest but will not be making any comments to the media. As you will be aware, this is normal practice.”
The HSE issued a statement last night saying some staff at University Hospital Galway had suffered distress as a result of being harassed.
It was issued to all media at 6.19pm.
More than two hours earlier – at 4.10pm – Coroner Ciaran McLoughlin had instructed lawyers for Savita and the HSE that they should not make any further statements to the media until the inquest had concluded.
Counsel for both sides nodded in agreement with Dr McLoughlin.
Today the HSE West Press Office defended the press release.
“It was an advisory note to the media asking that members of staff are not harassed during the inquest,” a spokeswoman said today.