Northern Ireland news

Progress report on Hyponatraemia deaths published

Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health, Richard Pengelly has published a progress report on the Hyponatraemia recommendations

THE Department of Health has said despite the political collapse it will be pushing ahead with the majority of recommendations from the Inquiry into Hyponatraemia-Related Deaths of children in hospitals in Northern Ireland.

A 14-year inquiry into the deaths of five children in the north's hospitals, published in January, concluded that four of them were avoidable.

Permanent secretary of the Department of Health, Richard Pengelly, has published a report on progress so far saying further updates will be published quarterly.

The inquiry was set up to investigate the deaths of Adam Strain, Claire Roberts, Raychel Ferguson, Lucy Crawford and Conor Mitchell.

It involved 50 lawyers and heard evidence from 106 doctors and other medical professionals.

"The recommendations of the Hyponatraemia Inquiry potentially impact on every service provided by our health and social care system and on every service user, carer and their families as well as on every member of staff employed to provide health and social care services.", Mr Pengelly said.

Read More: Ten months on from watershed report into children's hospital deaths, health chiefs meet with its author

"Fundamentally, the issues raised in the Hyponatraemia Inquiry are being addressed through a system-wide approach co-produced by people who provide and those who receive health and social care services, their families and carers.

"If we are going to successfully deliver both system and cultural change through this programme then we need to involve all of these groups of people.

"We have taken time to involve a wide range of people from different backgrounds and to equip them with the information and knowledge which will enable them to participate on as equal a footing as is possible in taking this work forward."

Mr Peneglly added that there are a number of recommendations which will require ministerial and Executive approval to proceed with, including those which require legislation, which cannot currently be implemented due to the Stormont collapse.

However, he said despite the political situation, work is proceeding against the recommendations.

Read More: Two more doctors linked to inquiry into deaths of five children in hospital to be investigated by GMC

"The appalling care failings at Muckamore Abbey Hospital have again highlighted the importance of candour in health and social services," he said.

"The workstream chaired by Quintin Oliver is charged with producing details on what a statutory duty of candour should look like.

"Over the next 12-18 months, there will be substantial progress against almost all of the recommendations.

"The vast majority which do not require ministerial or Executive approval will be implementable in that time-frame.

"This work is about restoring public confidence and trust in the health and social care system and we need to get this right."

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