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Savita Inquiry Falls Apart In Disarray

Can we do anything right in this country? Was anyone in the HSE thinking when they decided on the composition of the inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar?  What on earth did they expect to happen when they informed Praveen Halappanavar that his wife’s death would be investigated by a seven-member group, three of whom were medical consultants working in the very hospital where it happened? Did they think the man was a fool?

Did they really believe he’d cooperate with such a stupid plan?

So much for all the government’s talk of staying in touch with Savita’s family as the HSE made preparations to announce the terms of reference of the inquiry.  Obviously, if they had been in contact, they’d have found out pretty damn quick that our local bullshit doesn’t travel overseas too well.  While Irish people might be happy to accept the sort of waffle doled out by our politicians, the rest of the world sees it for the nonsense it is.

Where are we going with this?  In presiding over an economic catastrophe, our various governments were exposed as incompetent fools in front of all our European partners, and now they suffer the same indignity as far away as India, by turning a tragedy into a fiasco. Every civilised country in the world stands back in disbelief as our cowardly lawmakers shirk their responsibilities laid down by the Supreme Court and let women die or emigrate rather than face reality. How did they think they’d get away with this? Well, here’s one theory. First, the HSE is not run by professional managers.

It’s run by administrators, and there’s a big difference between the two. A manager grabs hold of a problem and solves it, using training and expertise, while an administrator reacts to a problem by trying to hide it.  The administrators who control the HSE are not trained in problem-solving.  For that matter, they’re not trained in anything except empty management-speak.  They’re file-shufflers, who have never had to deal with anything but paper, and those who deal exclusively with paper have little feeling for the needs of real people, as they showed in the breast cancer scandal.

Second, the clinical service is delivered by consultants, a caste of doctors who at one time were renowned worldwide for their arrogance, though that has changed in most countries, apart from a few small outposts of privilege such as Ireland.  Here, the consultants are paid more than anywhere else in Europe.  To keep their income high, there are fewer of them per head of population, and they are quite unaccustomed to having their word questioned. It’s the God Complex.

Now, combine these two strands of dysfunction.  A management which is not really management at all but simply reactive, defensive file-shuffling.  A clique of pampered, overbearing and overpaid specialists in charge of clinical matters.  Neither group is used to showing any consideration for the small person, also known as the patient.  The administrators are in the habit of keeping the public at arm’s length by means of a wall of red tape, while the consultants simply believe in their own personal infallibility. It’s almost inevitable that these two groups, acting together, would produce the disaster that is the Savita Hallapanavar inquiry, and it would probably have worked if they were dealing with Irish people, worn out and beaten down by generations of such collective arrogance.

What could be more normal in Ireland than to set up an inquiry where the very same people giving evidence about their colleagues are also members of the body asking the questions? How did Praveen Halappanavar respond?  Very simply.  He quite properly insisted that the inquiry should be genuinely independent if he was expected to co-operate, and in doing so, he may have done this country a great service.  I know he expressed the hope that Savita’s death might help to change things and perhaps he might live to see that wish become a reality.  The government had no option except to back down and remove the three Galway consultants from the inquiry, but of course if they hadn’t assumed they were dealing with a fool, they might have got away with it.

This isn’t to suggest that the three consultants are in any way biased, but it should be obvious to any fool, apart from our health minister and the HSE administrators, that an independent inquiry should be, what’s the word?  Independent.  That’s it.



The former head of obstetrics and gynaecology in Galway University hospital expresses his opinion on abortion.

39 replies on “Savita Inquiry Falls Apart In Disarray”

This just might be a good thing.It might show some of the general public who are in thrall of these politicians how the rest of the world views them,ie incompetent gobshites who know fuck all except how to line their own pockets.What a bunch of morons.

Good work. Keep at it.
This backwater can only be shaken up from within and it only takes a small percentage of the population to do it. Fuck these mentally retarded jobsworths

Will they replaced with Doctors from another Irish hospital operating under the same insurance arrangements?

A shameless exercise of corruption in front of the whole world but I suppose that it can be expected in the situation where the mice are left looking after the cheese !

Hold fire a min guys.

If this horrible situation happened in India, there would not be any enquiry there would be no media coverage.
Maternal mortality rates Ireland = 1/100,000
Maternal morrtality rates India = 347/100,000

Reality check here please.
Also that poor man is currently being used a pawn by the media. he is being very badly advised

Gerard. It is extremely pointless to compare Maternal or Perinatal Mortality rates in Ireland and India, with a population in India of 1,241,491,960 as of last year, it would be the same as comparing rates in Ireland to the entire U.S or the entirety of Europe etc etc.

I was just livid this morning on reading the Headline in the Irish Times, which read ” Galway inquiry in doubt due to opposition from family ” just how disingenuous can our the Irish media become ?
In that article all Mr. Halappanavar requested was his insistence, reasonably of a Dept of Health Public inquiry.
Minister Reilly responded with “Public inquiry would take longer to carry out ” What has time got to do with it ? The unfortunate woman has died.
Brendan Howlin stated he was “open to any ideas ” and went on to state he did not want ” a tribunal that goes on for ever more “……….the only reason the past Tribunals were what they were was as is everything in Country, highly inefficient and ” managed” by muppets.

That poor man probably has no idea as what level of ignorance and incompetance he is going to have to deal with.
Bock, i have never read a more concise, succint summation of the HSE, very very well done. I would not be ok with the HSE carrying out an inquiry on my missing cat.

If the husband is so desperate for a public inquiry, why doesn’t he simply make a complaint to the medical council of Ireland, the case will be investigates by a preliminary hearings committee, and if they feel there is a bona fide case it will progress to a fitness to practice hearing, all their hearings are conducted in public, with legal representatives from both parties,and the burden of proof being beyond reasonable doubt. As an aside the medical team in question will be under obligation to participate in a HSE inquiry as per their employment contracts, if the husband gets his wish of an indpependent inquiry, the medical team will be under no obligation to participate, they could simply wait for the inevitable civil claim thats coming their way. Again it must be re-iterated that all we know on this case at this moment in time are the words of a bereaved husband,who is acutely grieving, someone who is not in full possession of the medical facts or even in a position to understand why certain clinical decisions were made, it is important that in the interest of natural justice we wait for the medical team in question to explain their version of events,and offer explanation for their actions.

Unfortunately, I have to contradict you Bock in one respect, the HSE is run by managers, recruited from both public and private sectors, with little or no concept of public service. They have no qualms in squandering money on their friends in the management consultancy trade to advise them and harass their underlings.

These “managers” are quite fond of their “business process”, “operational guidelines”, “action plans” and prioritise stats, metrics and “value for money” cutbacks. Patient “turnaround” are valued more than quality of service and results mean reaching illusory nonsensical targets which matter to noone except themselves. Cutbacks or “value for money”, “cost containment” are the main reasons, I suspect, why they did not initiate an independent inquiry. Summoning consultants from another hospital to conduct an inquiry would cost too much in travel and accommodation. An independent inquiry, which anyone would expect, well as Derailed quoted Reilly, would take much longer i.e. cost too much.

The political reaction is embarrassing. They’d rather risk our national reputation, as if it hasn’t been damaged enough, to save a couple of quid.

Bock and all – I totally agree that Ireland has a huge issue and the HSE, the church, politiatiansis and others are to blame.

However, I think there is another point to be made which Gerard’s statistics illustrate well.

The press in India and even the government and a bishop (see links below) are saying things like:

“A young Indian dentist died because she was denied a life-saving abortion ” – This may be true but has not been proven at least yet.

“The Irish government was forced to assure that it would make suitable changes in the legal framework” – Unfortunately this is actually untrue at this point.

“Rev. Peter Machado, bishop of the Belgaum diocese, said the authorities of the University Hospital Galway in Ireland may be citing the law to cover up its mistakes in the death of Dr Savita Halappanavar.” – This may turn out to be true, but interesting (to say the least) that a bishop is involved in speculation in the press at this point.

“New Delhi lost no time in summoning Irish envoy Felin McLaughlin to convey the “concern and angst in Indian society about the untimely and tragic death of Savita Halappanavar”
– This is where Gerard’s statistics come in – the incidence of maternal mortality in India is 347 times higher than that of Ireland. Also (incidently) the infant mortality rate in India is 27 times higher than Ireland (72 compared to 3 per 1,000 live births).

So perhaps India should look at cleaning up their own back yard before commenting on how bad our’s is.

Note to Backtowork and Drailed : The statistics are perfectly comparable. The maternal mortality rate is calculated per 100,000 live births (as shown by Gerard) and the infant mortality rate is per 1,000 live births.

The issue is that the gap between rich and poor is huge in India and has grown even further during their economic boom.

Quotes above are taken from articles you can find at these links to the Times of India.

Fully agree that Ireland has a big issue to sort out but I think Gerard is trying to make a different but important point.

The authorities and press in India have been very critical of Ireland on this and “New Delhi lost no time in summoning Irish envoy Felin McLaughlin to convey the concern and angst in Indian society about the untimely and tragic death of Savita Halappanavar”. (quote from the Times of India).

As Gerard points out the incidence of maternal mortality in India is 347 times higher than it is in Ireland. Also the incidence of infant mortality in India is 72 per 1,000 live births, compared to 3 in Ireland.

So, perhaps India should “look at its own backyard” before being critical of our’s.

Notes to Backtowork and Derailed : The statistics ARE comparable despited the big difference in population. The maternal mortality is calculated per 100,000 live birhts and the infant mortality per 1,000 live births.

The quote above is taken from the Times of India web site here

Rainman. Unless all our ” Backyards ” were so neat and together none of us would have the right to voice frustration, disgust and anger here or anywhere else.
The Birthplace of the people involved had every right to voice their criticisms and whatever the opinion of those who think that they have overstepped some invisible boundary in that regard, it will not impact on the fact that what happened in Galway was a disgrace to Ireland and its people.
Criticism of India’s reaction is just typical of our defensive, if not imbedded insular views.

I see they have appointed this chap to head the investigation, Sabaratnam Arulkumaran he apparently knows his stuff!. My question is though why do we need to have an inquiry? It seems that most people have made up their minds about what happened already. Isn’t this just another waste of money!

Ah Tonyc I do get it, I get that nobody knows what happened this woman but it doesn’t stop people giving their opinion on how she died. I get that people are using this poor womans death for their own means. I get that whatever the outcome of whatever inquiry it will be the Gov/Church’s pick one fault.
No Tony I get it alright.

it might be the doctors fault, it might be the governments fault but it is the majority of the publics fault for listenig and putting up with those church cunts for too long

If the husband is so desperate for a public inquiry why doesn’t he just make a complaint to the Irish medical council, they’ll give him all he wants and more, a full public outing with blanket media coverage, legal representation for both sides, I’m surprised he doesn’t go down that route

Rainman — That’s a red herring. It’s not about what the Indians said. It’s about the state of Irish law.

If you knocked down an Indian person, would you refuse to compensate him because India is full of bad drivers?

Maybe Gerrard should ask himself why he felt the need to post useless statistics

Maybe then Gerrard could post his findings

Is it true that one of the terms of reference of the proposed HSE investigation is that none of the team members treating Savita will be identified in the report?. Could this be true?, another example of the faceless unaccountable monster that the HSE has become?.
Josef Stalin would be proud of the mandarins in the HSE.


I wouldn’t be surprised ifthatwas the case. Let the whitewash commence . . . . . We’ll end up with the usual “mistakes were made” crap if the HSE have their way.

Thankfully Praveen Halapannavar and his legal team aren’t falling for this. I think the only way that the truth will come out is in court with those responsible forced to testify and be crossed examined under oath. Unless Kenny, Reilly and the HSE rightly concede to his request for a truly inðependent inquiry.

In the case of an independent enquiry, would people be required by law to cooperate?genuinely interested to know…if only we had voted yes for the referendum on oireachtas public enquiries……to me the thing does stink for sure but I can understand if they declined to name the people involved — even if the enquiry exonerates them of all blame, their reputations would be forever tarnished; as I mentioned on another post, if they knew they could have saved her life but refused to do so out of fear of “the law” then fuck ’em, but if it turns out that they didn’t then is it fair to name them, given that there will always be a section of society that refuses to accept the findings of the enquiry?
And whilst I do agree that this is about the state of Irish law, and about the serious issue at hand, but I actually agree with Gerard and Rainman’s stats; this is the second such case here in 20 years, and in those years how many mothers have died giving birth in India due to poor medical practice?
To hijack your analogy Bock, he wouldn’t refuse compensation because India is full of bad drivers, and he’d be rightly wrong here (?) BUT if the Indian nation then started making statements to the international media based on one case, that we were a bunch of stupid savages, you would surely be right (nothwithstanding Rainman’s obvious lack of driving skills) to see it as a bit rich coming from them, no? Certainly we shouldn’t let it get under out skin, but still, it apparently does.
Anyway. I hope they do a proper investigation, despite the low chance of that. I hope her husband gets what he wants and gets some closure, and I hope that this never happens again; I hope that everyone here can agree on that anyway. I’ll probably be told to fuck off now and perhaps it’s not my place to say so, but I just want to appeal to everyone who is commenting here, to take a step back, and think about this really hard. This is a very emotional issue — and it needs to be — because humans lives are involved. But there is no place for anger in this! Only compassion. Put yourself in the husband’s position. Then put yourself in the medical staff’s position as well. Ask yourself would you have done any better on the night- and then let’s have a discussion about this, not a fight.

If the Indian government unfairly criticised Ireland, they should be challenged. But that challenge would have nothing whatever to do with the Savita case.

It’s interesting that we can have multiple referenda which are costly and which to date have not led to clear legislation and yet this tragic case has the potential to be of enormous public interest if as a nation we truly want to learn how we should protect women in this situation–surely if our administration want to learn clear lessons, they would opt for a public enquiry rather that the usual HSE stitch up.

Well said Steve, well done Bock for not addressing at all what he said. There is uproar in Ireland making a case for abortion because of a poor woman that lost her life in circumstances that nobody yet knows the details of.
As a parent I don’t know where I stand on the issue. As someone that was in a position to advise a young sisterl on what to do and now an uncle to a beautiful niece this sprint to abortion doesn’t sit easy with me.
Out of curiosity Bock where do you stand? Not on a medicaly necessary abortion because I think the life of the mother is more important than that of the unborn child, but the popular line now is that we need abortion in Ireland as in the UK?

Rob, “the popular line now is that we need abortion in Ireland as in the UK”–how do you define “popular”?. Are you saying that most people want this?. I think that is somewhat disingenuous. I find it disappointing yet predictable that some who do not want to see any change in the legislation are tarring those that do as promoters of a UK style abortion on demand service.

Steve, you were doing so well, it is about the Irish law, but what some people in India think about Ireland HAS nothing to do with the fact that Irish law MAY be the cause of Savitas death

@backtowork, yes I agree, and I probably laboured my point, which is this – some people are also angry about being labeled as savages by a country that has a worse record. Of course it has bugger all to do with the actual issue, personally it doesn’t bother me, the only thing I am concerned with is our own state of affairs. I was just trying to encourage people to think “yep, it’s ironic, now forget about it and let’s move on to the real problem”.
To answer my own question, there is apparently an act from 2006 or so that allows people to be legally compelled to co-operate with public independent enquries, so in light of that, I don’t see any reason that this should need to be investigated behind closed doors, as long as the nation can be rational about it and not jump to any conclusions.

Steve fair enough

You are right about the need for a public inquiry, lets hope that it is carried out with dignity and respect for all involved

Rob — You’re trying to engineer a bit of mission creep there but it’s not going to happen. This discussion is about the implications arising from the Savita case, in light of the 1992 Supreme Court judgement and that’s where it will stay.

If you want to talk about abortion in general, you’ll have to wait for a different post. I will only say this: as far as I can see, nobody, on any side of the debate, is pro-abortion. Some are against it in all circumstances. Some would permit abortion in cases where the mother’s life is threatened, or where the child has a condition such as anencephaly. Some people see abortion as a necessary evil. Nobody is enthusiastic about it.

Lets hope the truth comes out, regardless of what that truth may be, and that no one is unjustly affected

The main point is that the HSE tried to pull a ast one and a public inquiry is the way to go as long as it is carried out in the best interests of all involved

This story was covered by CNN last week but is now the lead story on and CNN with the headline that files have been tampered with /information missing now suggesting a coverup.
The story is being framed in the US as “look what would happen if Republicans have their way”.
I know, story creep Bock, but it is interesting as to how many different nerves this is hitting in different countries.

Bock I enjoy the site and reading your opinions ( don’t always agree with them) I wasn’t trying to pull any strokes, sorry you thought I was. If I was off topic fair enough.

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