Galway hospital staff will not be named under terms of reference of HSE inquiry
None of the staff who treated Savita Halappanavar will be named in the HSE report to be drawn up into her death, according to the terms of reference of the investigation published by the HSE.
An “anonymised” report “may be published” after the investigation is completed, the terms of reference state.
The HSE also announced yesterday the names of the three new members who have been drafted in to the investigation team to replace the Galway-based consultants who have stepped aside.
They are Prof James Walker, honorary consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds; Dr Brian Marsh, a consultant in intensive care medicine at the Mater hospital, Dublin; and Prof Mary Horgan, consultant physician in Cork University Hospital.
The investigation team will carry out a “thorough, methodical and fair” investigation that will seek to establish the facts and to identify any causal or contributory factors that may have influenced Ms Halappanavar’s death, it said.
The HSE defended the chairman of the inquiry team, Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, whose appointment has been criticised by anti-abortion groups. It pointed out Prof Arulkumaran had more than 40 years experience of clinical practice and conducted a similar inquiry in Britain into maternal deaths at two English hospitals. “His experience and credentials are beyond reproach,” the HSE said.
According to the terms of reference, the purpose of the investigation is to establish the factual circumstances leading up to the “incident” and identify any key causal factors.
It will also seek to identify other contributory factors and will recommend actions to address these in order to eliminate or reduce the risk of future harm.
The investigation covers the period from October 21st, when Ms Halappanavar was admitted to the hospital, to her death on October 28th.
The HSE says the team will have access to all relevant files and records, “subject to any necessary consent/data protection requirements including court applications where necessary”.
The investigation, which has already begun, will be conducted in the shortest timeframe necessary to achieve its purpose, the HSE said. Once completed, an “anonymised” draft report will be drawn up.
The HSE says the report will be shared with Praveen Halappanavar and may be published and subject to freedom of information requests.
Minister for Health James Reilly said he had asked the chairman of the team to send him an interim report “in the next number of weeks, certainly well before Christmas”.
Dr Reilly did not rule out a public inquiry yesterday, saying he wanted to get the interim report before making any “determinations”. He did not rule out an inquiry by the Health Information and Quality Authority “further down the road”.
Asked whether the inquiry could proceed without the co-operation of Mr Halappanavar, the Minister said there might come a point when “we won’t have the completeness of information” without his input and this would be regrettable.