Husband objects to inquiry members

 

The husband of the late Savita Halappanavar wants employees of Galway University Hospital removed from the inquiry established by the Health Service Executive into her death.

Praveen Halappanavar said last night he would request through his solicitor that Prof John J Morrison, a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology; Dr Catherine Fleming, consultant in infectious diseases; and Dr Brian Harte, consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care at the hospital, be removed from the inquiry.

The HSE announced details of the membership of the inquiry team at a press conference in Dublin yesterday.

Ms Halappanavar died at the Galway hospital on October 28th of septicaemia seven days after she presented with back pain. She had been 17 weeks pregnant and her husband says she asked repeatedly for a termination over a three-day period but was refused as there was a foetal heartbeat present.

Mr Halappanavar arrived back in Ireland from India on Sunday and met his solicitor in Galway yesterday to discuss the draft terms of reference for the independent inquiry.

Asked what he wanted from the inquiry, he said: “The truth to come out. As long as it is a fully independent inquiry so that the truth will come out. It does bother me that there are people from Galway hospital on the inquiry. I would prefer no Galway people on the inquiry. I will basically request that there be no-one from Galway on it.”

The inquiry team has seven members. Its chairman, Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at St George’s Hospital, University of London, said it was important to have representatives from Galway University Hospital on it to allow the panel to compare the guidelines in use there with the national and international guidelines.

He said the three consultants from Galway on the inquiry team had not been involved in the care of Ms Halappanavar.

“The main reason to have internal people involved is not for them to give specific directions but to find out about their standard practice,” he said.

Hospital co-operation

The HSE said the inquiry would seek to establish the facts surrounding the death of Ms Halappanavar, to identify any contributory factors, draw conclusions and make recommendations. It said Galway University Hospital had committed to co-operating fully.

Mr Halappanavar also said there were five members of medical staff, as well as a family friend, present in the room with him and Savita when they were told on Tuesday, October 23rd that she could not have a termination of the pregnancy she was miscarrying because “this is a Catholic country”.

Mr Halappanavar also said he believed no inquiry would have been established if his wife’s death had not been brought to public attention.

“I was in India for nearly two weeks and I never heard from the hospital . . . So I had to see people became aware . . . I don’t think there would be any inquiry if there was not the public pressure. I think there would have been an inquest and no one would have known this happened. It is a pity because I thought Ireland would care more for someone so young who died. That let me down. I was not happy about that.”

Asked whether Ms Halappanavar’s parents would come to Ireland for the inquiry or inquest, he said if her father was not “convinced with the investigation” he was “very keen to come over”.

“The law has to change. Maybe Savita was born to change the laws here.”