HSE director of quality and patient safety, Dr Philip Crowley, has confirmed the “quick local review” approach is being considered to ensure lessons are learned earlier from crisis situations.
According to the Irish Medical Times, the new system — which would involve local risk reviews highlighting wider service issues at particular hospitals — could be in place before the end of this summer.
It was called for by both Dr Crowley and support group Patient Focus in the aftermath of the Savita Halappanavar case.
“When something bad happens to somebody they don’t want the answer a year later,” Dr Crowley explained. “There is a balance between getting the report done quickly and making sure it is comprehensive, and then also making sure that we are fair to everybody involved and that we don’t libel someone.
“All of these processes means it [the current system] all takes longer than we are happy with. So we are implementing a new incident management policy,” he said.
While the new system is likely to be welcomed by patient groups after repeated delays in the publication of reports, it also gives rise to concerns over the independence of the initial reviews.
Last November, the HSE removed three doctors connected to Galway University Hospital from its initial review panel after Mrs Halappanavar’s widower, Praveen, criticised their inclusion.
However, despite the potential hurdle for any change to the existing system, Patient Focus, speaking after the HSE clinical review into Mrs Halappanavar’s death was published last Thursday, said a new approach is needed.
Its chief executive, Sheila O’ Connor, said this is because not all investigations into unexpected deaths in the health service address concerns quickly enough.
“As a general rule, the onus is on patients and their families to seek answers, drive the quest for an investigation, monitor the progress, and seek the right to participate in it.”
Meanwhile, the parents of Mrs Halappanavar — Andanappi Yalagi and his wife Akamahadevi — have insisted the current abortion bill put forward by the Government does not go far enough.
They said they cannot understand why Ireland has not yet legislated to protect the health of the mother, instead of protecting her life, describing the current system as “an evil law”.