THE MINISTER FOR Health James Reilly has recognised the need for a transparent, independent inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar at Galway University Hospital – but added that the process needed to be expedited in order to ensure no further risk is posed to women being treated at the facility.
Responding to questions put to him at the Joint Committee on Health and Children this evening, Reilly said that ‘justice not only needed to be done, but needed to be seen to be done’.
“This is a very difficult and traumatic time for the family of Savita Halappanavar and I know that it’s going to be very difficult for them in relation to whole procedure,” he said. However, he added that he had a “duty of care” to women across the country to expedite the process so that if any further risks at the hospital remain they can be addressed.
Earlier today, the HSE confirmed that three people from Galway University Hospital had been removed from the team investigating the death of Savita, who died of septicaemia several days after she presented at the hospital experiencing a miscarriage and was subsequently denied a medical abortion. The statement came after a lawyer for the Halappanavar family told RTÉ’s Today with Pat Kenny that Praveen had no faith in the process and would not cooperate with it.
Savita’s husband, Praveen, told The Irish Times yesterday that he was not satisfied with the presence of three Galway University Hospital (GUH) staff on the team investigating his wife’s death, and made it clear he wanted nothing less than an independent examination of the events surrounding her death at the facility.
Seamus Healy TD said the composition of the inquiry, and the manner in which it had been arranged, had compromised the investigation from the very beginning – adding that whoever had thought it appropriate to place three consultants from GUH on the inquiry panel “was not in touch with reality”.
Although Healy called for an independent public inquiry, the Health Minister indicated that this option would take “an awful lot longer” to complete. Reilly said it was “at the fore” of his conscience to ensure that other patients were not at risk.
Reilly said the inquiry needed to be carried out in a transparent fashion that could stand up to the scrutiny of Savita’s family, the Irish people, and the world.