Ireland to go ahead with its inquiry into Savita's death



London: Ireland is set to proceed with its inquiry into the death of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar due to pregnancy-related complications after being denied abortion, notwithstanding her husband's demand for a full public investigation.

Irish Minister for Health James Reilly said he had a duty of care to women to ensure there were not any unsafe practices in Galway University Hospital, where 31-year-old Savita died last month.

He said he wanted the Health Service Executive to get on with the investigation as quickly as possible.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) yesterday removed three members of its seven-member inquiry team who were consultants at the hospital. The three are John J Morrison, Catherine Fleming and Brian Harte.

Savita's husband Praveen had refused to talk to the investigators, saying he would not consent to their viewing his wife's medical records as these three senior doctors of Galway hospital were part of the team that messed up his wife's case.

"The three doctors will not be part of the investigation and therefore different personnel who are competent, who are experienced and who have no connection to Galway University Hospital will be appointed," Prime Minister Enda Kenny said last evening.

However, Praveen said he would still not cooperate with any investigation run by the HSE.

He is seeking a public investigation of the death of his wife, who was refused termination of pregnancy despite miscarrying.

Savita had been 17 weeks pregnant and her husband says she asked repeatedly for a termination but was refused as there was a foetal heartbeat present.

Praveen told The Irish Times he and Savita's parents wanted a full public inquiry funded by the Department of Health and not by the HSE. He said the removal of the three consultants from Galway University Hospital from the inquiry, announced by Kenny in the Dail (Parliament) yesterday, was not enough.

"I am not happy with it. They just set up a panel and didn't consult us at all. I am not happy with the HSE. The HSE are the ones who messed up Savita's care. Basically I am insisting on a public inquiry."

He said Savita's father, Andanappa Yalagi, had called him at 5 am yesterday to discuss progress on the inquiry. "They are very anxious to see what's happening. I said I had to keep the pressure on. I said I was not happy with the panel."

However, Reilly said a public inquiry would take longer to carry out than the private inquiry currently proposed and the answers to what happened would be "an awful lot" slower to come out.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said today the Government is "open to any ideas" following Praveen's request for a full public inquiry.

But he stressed the Government does not want "a tribunal that goes on forever."

PTI