HSE asks HIQA to open statutory inquiry into Savita's death
London: The Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) on Thursday asked the state's health watchdog HIQA to initiate a statutory inquiry into the death of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar even though her family has decided not to co-operate with the probe.
However, the HSE's own investigation in the case would continue.
According to the Irish Times, the director general designate of the HSE Tony O'Brien said even if Savita's family decided not to co-operate with the executive's inquiry, the review "must be brought to a conclusion".
"There was 'no way' the inquiry could be stopped as it would be "criminally negligent" not to proceed, he said.
Halappanavar's decision not to participate in the inquiry "does not absolve the HSE of an obligation to ensure that the inquiry proceeds", he said.
The HSE inquiry would provide it with a clinical information that may be of "immediate value" in the hospital, he said.
In order to give "further reassurance" to her family and the public, O'Brien said he has asked the HIQA chief executive to initiate its own statutory inquiry.
This could take place before the HSE inquiry concludes, he said.
Separately, Praveen Halappanavar's solicitor Gerard O'Donnell has said there is no record in Savita's medical file of her requests for a termination while she was being treated in University Hospital Galway.
It was not "either or" as to a public review and the HSE clinical inquiry, O'Brien said told RTE Radio's News at One.
There will also be a coroner's process under way shortly which has "many attributes of a public inquiry," he said.
Meanwhile, Halappanavar family's solicitor O'Donnell said he had studied the medical records given to the family closely and had written to the HSE about them on Monday.
O'Donnell's main concern was that there was no request documented in the Savita Halappanavar's medical records that she or her husband had repeatedly sought a termination.
"There’s absolutely no entry by the medical team of this in the medical records," he told RT.
In response, O'Brien said any information that Halappanavar had that would "speak to any inconsistencies between what's in the record and his personal knowledge would be of great value to the review team".
He also that the HSE was not as "aware as it should have been of the wider context that was emerging" and was focused on the "clinical aspects" in its inquiry.
Asked about the inclusion of three Galway clinicians in the original review team, he said Minister for Health James Reilly was not aware of the total composition before it was announced because that was a matter for the HSE.
Once the HSE heard the concerns of the family it took steps to have the Galway clinicians stand down, he said.
Earlier today, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton welcomed President Michael D Higgins's intervention in the controversy over the inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar.
Burton said she had read and heard the comments made by the President and believed they were considerate, thoughtful, reflectful and humane, she added.
President yesterday intervened in the continuing row over the inquiry into the death of Savita, saying it must meet the needs of her family as well as those of the State.
Higgins' unprecedented comments will increase the pressure on the Government to recast the investigation in response to continuing opposition from her husband Praveen.