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Dublin: 17 °C Friday 31 October, 2014

HIQA announces 12-person team to lead Savita inquiry

The team will be led by Dr Paul Fogarty, a consultant obstetrician from the Ulster Hospital in Belfast.

Savita Halappanavar (right), with her husband Praveen. Praveen Halappanavar has said he would not co-operate with a HSE investigation into his wife's death.
Savita Halappanavar (right), with her husband Praveen. Praveen Halappanavar has said he would not co-operate with a HSE investigation into his wife's death.
Image: Photocall Ireland

HIQA HAS REVEALED details of a 12-member team to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway two months ago.

The Indian woman, 31, died of septicaemia at University College Hospital in Galway two months ago, days after being denied an abortion when she learned she was miscarrying.

The team will be led by Dr Paul Fogarty, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist from the Ulster Hospital in Belfast, who specialises in ultrasound and foetal medicine and in medical education.

Dr Fogarty has previously chaired the UK’s National Patient Safety committee, and helped to oversee the production of the Northern Ireland Maternity Strategy.

Three of the other members of the team have also been drawn from the UK; they include Dr Nuala Lucas, a consultant anaesthetist based in Middlesex; Denise Boulter, a midwife consultant in Northern Ireland; and Dr Bharat Patel, a consultant medical microbiologist from the UK’s Health Protection Agency.

The team will also include Dr Robert Cunney, a consultant microbiologist from Temple Street Children’s Hospital who is also the coordinator of the Irish Paediatric Surveillance Unit, and a lay member, Loretta Evans, a patient safety activist.

The identity of a seventh external member has not yet been revealed, as the final member is still in the process of being appointed.

The seven-member unit will be managed by five staff from HIQA, including its director of regulation Phelim Quinn, each of whom will also form part of the investigation team.

The group are to be tasked with reviewing the safety, quality and standards of services provided at University Hospital Galway to its patients at risk of clinical deterioration, and in particular to Savita Halappanavar in the time leading up to her death.

The unit will have the right to enter and inspect premises, records and documents, and to conduct interviews and seek explanations from concerned individuals. It also has the power to commission the expert advice of external parties.

The terms of reference for the inquiry team, which were published last month, do not define a deadline by which the team must issue a report.

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