Firstly, I wish to repeat that this tragedy should not have happened and that the untimely death of Savita Halappanavar on 28 October last year was a shocking wake-up call to the whole health care system about how failures in patients' care can sometimes have extreme consequences. 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.
I am 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 Healthcare Associated Infections, Medication Safety and implementation of Early Warning Score systems. I will not accept insufficient allocation of funding for measures supporting safe patient care, despite hugely competing demands on the Service Plan's Budget.
My Department 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.
I am determined that the recommendations of this Report will be implemented. To ensure this, I will direct the Chairperson of HIQA to ensure that my patient safety priorities are reflected in their monitoring programme against the National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare.
My Department 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. The Department will oversee the development of this national maternal strategy and it will be informed by our own national expertise as well as an international analysis of maternity and gynaecology service configurations and best practice models of care.
I have already mandated the National Early Warning Score as the first National Clinical Guideline. Ireland was the first country to do this. I am now requesting the development of similar guidelines for national maternity early warning score, national paediatric early warning score, sepsis and clinical hand over.
Finally, I am continuing to examine this extremely important and comprehensive report. In the meantime, I have written to both HIQA and the HSE giving further directions to both organisations on how progress on the implementation of the recommendations should be monitored and reported.