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Apology from inquiry chair after hyponatraemia report is delayed again

The inquiry into hyponatraemia-related deaths was held at Banbridge Courthouse. Picture by Arthur Allison

THE chairman of an inquiry into the deaths of three children at Northern Ireland hospitals has apologised after he revealed a long-awaited report will not be published until next year - 13 years after the probe was initially set up.

Chairman of the hyponatraemia inquiry, John O'Hara QC, said while it had been hoped the report would be completed and published by the end of this year, this will not be possible.

The report has already been delayed several times and was due to be published in 2014.

Mr O'Hara said although "significant progress" had been made on the report, "it will simply not be possible to finish it this year".

"I regret this and acknowledge that those who are awaiting the report will be disappointed by this news," he said.

"It will be published at the earliest date in 2017 that I can achieve."

Hyponatraemia is an abnormally low level of sodium in blood and can occur when fluids are given incorrectly.

The inquiry is examining the deaths of Adam Strain, Claire Roberts and Raychel Ferguson, and the events following the deaths of Lucy Crawford and Conor Mitchell.

Former direct rule health minister Angela Smith set up the inquiry in November 2004 after allegations that fatal errors had been made by hospital staff administering intravenous fluids. However the probe did not get underway until 2012.

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