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December 22, 2014

HSE DG offers to meet bereaved husband

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Savita with her husband Praveen. Photo by Excel Media/Rex Features

By Gary Culliton

The Director General designate of the HSE, Mr Tony O’Brien, has said that he is available to meet Mr Praveen Halappanavar, and that it was his preference that Mr Halappanavar should meet Galway hospital probe Chairman, Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran.

“I am hopeful that he may find it possible to participate in the review. I believe that if he were to do so, that that would be in the best interests of all concerned,” said Mr O’Brien.

Gerard O’Donnell, solicitor for Praveen Halappanavar, has commented that Mr Halappanavar has made it clear that he has absolutely no confidence in the HSE or anybody who may be engaged by the HSE, to investigate the circumstances surrounding his wife’s death. There could only be one purpose in  Mr Halappanavar meeting Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, in Mr O’Donnell’s view. “That would be to prevail upon him to engage in a private enquiry, which we are not prepared to do.”

Mr O’Donnell said a sworn public inquiry was now sought. A very short period – seven days from when Mrs Halappanavar first went into the hospital until her tragic and untimely death – would be covered by the inquiry, he said. “I fail to see why it should take any length of time and I fail to see why it should take long to establish. It is within the remit of the Dáil to nominate a High Court Judge and to set out the terms of reference.”

Mr Halappanavar will only be happy with an inquiry where there are witnesess called, where there is evidence taken under oath and where there is cross examination, added the solicitor.

“In the context of an absolute obligation I have to ensure that these matters are investigated to the greatest extent possible. Clearly my aim and hope is that Mr Praveen Halappanavar and other members of his family who have knowledge of this, will assist us in the inquiry,” O’Brien said. “My primary aim is to secure that. As things stand, we are waiting to see whether he will be in a position to meet with the Chairman, Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran. We have to be sensitive to Mr Halappanavar’s current position.”

The Investigation Team “initiated contact” with Mr Halappanavar’s legal representatives and will engage with him as part of the investigation process, the HSE had pledged. Three Galway based doctors have stood down from the Inquiry team.

Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran is 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 and Gynaecology. The final report of the Investigation Team will be provided to the HSE’s National Director of Quality and Patient Safety, Dr Philip Crowley.