Healthcare news

Long-awaited inquiry in children's hospital deaths due to be released

Raymond and Maire Ferguson were among witnesses who gave evidence to the inquiry into Hyponatraemia-related deaths. Their daughter, Raychel Ferguson died in 2001 after being admitted to Altnagelvin Hospital to have her appendix removed. She was nine years old.
Seanín Graham

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THE long-awaited findings of an inquiry into the deaths of three children at Northern Ireland hospitals will be published tomorrow - 14 years after the probe was initially set up.

John O'Hara QC, chairman of the hyponatraemia inquiry, will release his findings to the public in what is expected to be an extensive report.

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

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.

One of the most high-profile doctors who gave evidence during the hearings was the north's former chief medical officer, Henrietta Campbell, who admitted that the mechanisms for reporting hospital deaths 20 years ago were poor.

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