A sensational claim that notes made by a midwife in the Savita Halappanavar  case were altered in an internal inquiry into the Indian-born dentist's death rocked the inquest hearing yesterday in Galway.

Miriam Dunleavy stated that marks on her notes were not written by her and she thought that someone involved in the hospital internal inquiry had added the notes.

The inquest is inquiring into the death of Savita, a dentist in Westport, County Mayo, who contracted sepsis after the hospital refused her request to terminate her dying fetus. Her husband claims he was told the abortion could not happen because Ireland was a Catholic country.

At the inquest Savita’s doctor stated that she was ready to abort the fetus after it became clear that Savita was seriously ill with sepsis. She had refused to do so 24 hours earlier.

Dr. Katherine Astbury said she had told Savita that she would abort the baby if necessary as the woman’s condition began to worsen. However the fetus aborted spontaneously.

"I also informed Ms Halappanavar that if the source of the infection was not identified we would have no option but to consider termination regardless of foetal heartbeat," she said.

The midwife Miriam Dunleavy stated that Savita became very ill very fast. "I've never seen a woman with an inevitable miscarriage get so sick so quick, and I've been seven years on the ward," she said.