herald

Tuesday 2 September 2014

'No point in HSE inquiry without Savita's husband'

AN INQUIRY into the circumstances of Savita Halappanaver's death would be pointless without her medical records and husband's cooperation, several experts said today.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin demanded that the Government abandon the planned HSE inquiry into Savita's death, adding: "They are only compounding her family's pain."

Praveen Halappanavar , a key witness in the events surrounding his wife's death, is not only unwilling to give evidence himself but plans to prevent the HSE probe from accessing his wife's medical records.

The HSE has said that it will endeavour to provide records to those investigating the circumstances behind the tragic death.

But Mr Halappanavar's legal team is adamant that they will contest the move, adding that the inquiry would be "defunct" without the medical records.

His solicitor, Gerard O'Donnell, said that he believed the HSE will have to comply with their own request to hand over all files on Savita and to delete any copies that are on the agency's system.

He added that his client will seek a High Court injunction to "restrain" any further access to the files by the inquiry team.

And he said that he has sought further documents relating to Savita but has yet to receive a reply.

There is now growing concern among senior Government figures that the HSE-led probe will fail to achieve results without the support and cooperation of Savita's husband.

And today, a prominent Government politician said that the inquiry will struggle to proceed without Mr Halappanavar's backing.

Labour senator Ivana Bacik called on the Government to make contact with Mr Halappanavar and his legal team.

"I think it's very hard to see how the inquiry can continue without the cooperation of the family. I think that it is important that any inquiry -- whatever form it takes -- would meet the needs of the family," she said.

The Irish Patients' Association today said it would be "extremely sad" if Mr Halappanavar was forced to go to court to prevent the records being handed over to the inquiry team.

"This man is a champion of all patients and we are very much standing by him," according to IPA chairman Steve McMahon.

"I think it would be very sad for all of us to see a situation where Praveen Halappanavar was forced to go to court to protect the medical records of his deceased wife."

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin today heaped the pressure on Health Minister James Reilly to abandon the probe, adding that it would greatly struggle to proceed without access to the medical files.

Mr Martin told the Herald: "I can't foresee this proceeding without the support of Mr Halappanavar and that support clearly is not there. You could not get a full and complete investigation without crucial medical documents."

Mr Martin reiterated his party's call for a public inquiry to be formed.

And he said that any scenario where Mr Halappanavar would be forced to go to court would "only compound his pain".

See pages 16-17

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