Press Release

Statement by James Reilly TD, Minister for Health on Publication of HIQA’s Report into the death of Ms. Savita Halappanavar at University College Hospital Galway (UCHG) on 28th October 2012

Responding to the publication of the HIQA Report today, the Minister for Health expressed his sincere sympathy to the Halappanavar family for the loss of Savita. He said:

“This tragedy should not have happened. The untimely death of Savita Halappanavar on 28th October last year was a shocking wake-up call to the whole healthcare system about how failures in patients’ care can sometimes have extreme consequences.”

He also said that: “I am determined that out of the sad loss of this young woman our whole health system will learn lessons that will ensure that it provides safe, patient-centred care.”

The Minister concluded: “I will ensure that this comprehensive report will be given careful consideration and reflection to ensure all of its findings and recommendations are responded to and that any actions required will be implemented across our health services.”

The Minister is mandating five initial priority actions in response to the Report as follows:

1. Achieving a Patient Safety Culture

The Minister is changing the way we do business in relation to monitoring the performance of our health services so that there is visible emphasis on patient safety. One immediate step is to make patient safety a priority within the HSE’s annual Service Plan through specific measures focused on quality and patient safety including Health Care Associated Infections, Medication Safety and implementation of Early Warning Score systems. The Minister will not accept insufficient allocation of funding for measures supporting safe patient care, despite hugely competing demands on the Service Plan’s Budget.

2. Code of Conduct for Employers

CEOs must be held accountable for the safety and quality of their services. The Department of Health will be developing a Code of Conduct for Employers that reflects the fact that patient safety is core business and must be permanently integrated into the corporate governance agenda.

3. Monitoring Progress on Implementation

The Minister is determined that the recommendations of this Report will be implemented. To ensure this, he will direct the Chairman of HIQA to ensure that patient safety priorities are reflected in their monitoring programme against the National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare.

4. Development of Maternity Services

The Department of Health will be leading the development of a Strategic Plan for Maternity Services in collaboration with the HSE which will provide the blueprint for the safe, effective delivery of maternity services nationally.

5. Mandating Clinical Guidelines

The Minister has already mandated the National Early Warning Score as the first National Clinical Guideline. Ireland was the first country to do this. The Minister is now requesting the development of similar guidelines for sepsis and clinical handover.