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HSE announces details of Savita Halappanavar investigation

The HSE has said that independent expert in obstetrics and gynaecology, Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran of St George’s University of London, will chair the investigation team.

Pictured (l to r) are Praveen and Savita Halappanavar.
Pictured (l to r) are Praveen and Savita Halappanavar.
Image: Photocall Ireland

THE HSE HAS announced details of the investigation into the death of Savita Halappanavar.

It said the investigation team comprises a number of experts in the relevant disciplines; including anaesthesia, midwifery, obstetrics and gynaecology, who will review the full range of clinical care provided to Ms Halappanavar.

Savita died in a Galway hospital after suffering from a miscarriage which lasted a number of days. Her husband Praveen said she had been denied a termination after requesting one, as a foetal heartbeat was present.

The HSE said the investigation team also includes an independent patient representative.

Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, an independent expert in obstetrics and gynaecology, will chair the investigation team into her death. Sir Arulkumaran is Professor and Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Deputy Head of Clinical Sciences at St George’s University of London. He is also the President of the International Federation of Obstetrics & Gynaecology.

The HSE’s National Incident Management Team (NIMT) will oversee and support the investigation.


The members of the investigation team are:

  • Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, St. George’s Hospital, University of London (Chairperson)
  • Ms Cora McCaughan, HSE National Incident Management Team
  • Ms Cathriona Molloy, Service User Advocate, Patient Focus
  • Prof Morrison, Consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Galway University Hospital
  • Ms Geraldine Keohane, Director of Midwifery, Director of Cork University Hospital
  • Dr Catherine Fleming, Consultant Infectious Diseases, Galway University Hospital
  • Dr Brian Harte, Consultant Anaesthetics, Galway University Hospital

According to the HSE, the team met earlier today to review the Terms of Reference and agree their schedule for carrying out the investigation, “which will be completed within an expeditious timeframe”.

The process of clinical incident review seeks to ascertain the facts relating to the incident, identify any casual or contributory factors, draw conclusions, and make recommendations in relation to any steps that may need to be taken to prevent, insofar as it’s possible, and reduce the risk of a similar incident occurring again.

Galway University Hospital has committed to cooperating fully with the team to ensure that this investigation can be completed as quickly as possible. The team has initiated contact with Mr Halappanavar’s legal representatives and will engage with him as part of the investigation process, said the HSE.

The final report of the investigation team will be provided to the HSE’s National Director of Quality and Patient Safety, Dr Philip Crowley.


Speaking at the press conference today, Dr Crowley expressed condolences on behalf of the HSE to Ms Halappanavar’s family and friends for their tragic loss:

Our thoughts are with Ms Halappanavar’s family and friends at this difficult time. It is important that we ascertain the full facts of what occurred in this case and take all necessary steps that may be needed to be taken to prevent or minimise the risk of a similar incident occurring again.

He said that under the chairmanship of Sir Arulkumaran, “we will have a thorough, independent, and expeditious review of the facts surrounding the tragic death of Ms Halappanavar”.

We must now give the investigation team the time and support they require to conduct their inquiries before drawing any conclusions. We must also remember that Ireland’s maternity services are of a very high standard and that as a country we have one of the lowest maternal death rates in the OECD.

Read:Details of HSE inquiry into Savita Halappanavar’s death may be published today>

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