Hospital board members asked to absent themselves from Savita meeting

Four board members of the Galway Roscommon University Hospitals Group have been called on to absent themselves from a meeting today (Thursday ) to discuss the HIQA report into the death of Savita Halappanavar because they are senior managers at UHG.

Hospital Group CEO Bill Maher, chief financial officer Maurice Power, clinical director Dr Pat Nash, and director of nursing and midwifery Colette Cowan are among 11 directors on the board.

Chairperson of the HSE Regional Health Forum West, Cllr Padraig Conneely, has called on the four members of senior management at the hospital where Mrs Halappanavar died last year to absent themselves from the meeting due to what he claims is a “conflict of interests”.

Cllr Padraig Conneely, who is also mayor of Galway city, said that, in the interests of “transparency and accountability” those who have a direct operational role in the hospital where Mrs Halappanavar died should not participate in a board meeting to discuss the report into her death.

“There will be no accountability and no restoration of confidence in the regional health service if it is perceived that the board responsible for acting on this report is stuffed with senior management who would effectively be policing themselves,” he said. “People are entitled to ask, ‘Who’s watching the watchdog?’” he added.

“Other HSE hospitals across the country have removed management from their boards in accordance with recommendations by HIQA last year. This is not the case in Galway-Roscommon.”

Meanwhile Cllr Conneely has made a formal complaint to the medical council concerning the consultant obstetrician responsible for the care of Savita Halappanavar.

He lodged the complaint this week with the medical authority, seeking an examination of Dr Katherine Astbury’s professional conduct while providing care for Mrs Halappanavar, who died at University Hospital Galway in October 2012.

The complaint will be referred to the Medical Council’s preliminary proceedings committee which will decide whether the matter should be referred to a full inquiry.

Mayor Conneely said that the damning HIQA report into the death of Mrs Halappanavar had laid bare a “litany of failures” in the care provided to her at the hospital.

He said that confidence among users of the health service in Galway had been “badly shaken” in the wake of the report and there was anxiety particularly among pregnant women who would be patients of the hospital in the months ahead.

“It is absolutely vital that the failures and shortcomings that led to Savita’s tragic death are openly identified and addressed so that we can restore confidence in our regional health service and provide assurance to patients that such events will never come to pass again,” he said.

“In order to do that, there must be transparency and accountability. There can be no whitewash. Responsibility must rest at the door of those who oversaw the catastrophic failure to treat a woman whose life, and that of her baby, was in the balance.”

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