Lessons from the death of Savita Halappanavar that bear on the decision made by Minister Harris to move the National Maternity Hospital to the St. Vincent’s University Hospital campus

The HIQUA report (http://ow.ly/CwTv30c5MNm) into Savita Halappanavar’s death from sepsis while in labour at University Hospital Galway should be read by our politicians during the one month abeyance in the planning for the move of the NMH to SVUH campus decreed by Minister Harris.

“The Authority’s investigation also found that there is wide variation in the local clinical and corporate governance arrangements in place across the 19 public maternity hospitals/units nationally. This means that it is impossible at this time to properly assess the performance and quality of the maternity service nationally.

There has been no national review, or national population-based needs assessment, undertaken to date to identify the appropriate allocation of resources including multidisciplinary workforce arrangements, or the models of care required to ensure that all pregnant women have appropriate choices and access to the right level of care and support at the right time in Ireland”.

How do we know that co-location with SVUH is the best tertiary hospital choice when faced with this reality?

HIQUA specifically demanded this policy response from Minister Harris’ Department of Health:

“The Authority has also included a specific recommendation for the Department of Health to develop a ‘Code of Conduct’ for employers. This includes a code for managers that will clearly set out the behaviours and responsibilities expected in relation to achieving an optimum safety culture, governance and performance of an organisation. It should also include the duties and responsibilities in relation to the professional regulation of staff and the referral of healthcare professionals, where appropriate, to their professional regulators”.

How will the chilling religious ethic effect that will be present at SVUH be squared with this?