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Unacceptable that families left waiting after damning report

After a judge delivered one of the most damning indictments ever heard against the health service in Northern Ireland, there would have been every expectation that the authorities would move quickly to address the serious concerns raised.

However, not only has there been little public action on the part of the Department of Health and other statutory bodies following the Hyponatraemia Inquiry, but the family of one child whose avoidable death was covered up, was forced to seek a meeting with the department's top civil servant in a bid to find out what was happening.

It is absolutely unacceptable that bereaved families who have been badly let down by health professionals should be left in the dark seven weeks after Mr Justice O'Hara handed down his devastating assessment following a protracted, painstaking and thorough public inquiry.

These families who have lost a child have been through an appalling ordeal.

In a moving interview in yesterday's Irish News, the parents of nine-year-old Claire Roberts told of their profound anguish after their daughter went into hospital after suffering a vomiting bug and dehydration.

It later emerged the little girl had been misdiagnosed, heavily sedated with the wrong drugs then overdosed with IV fluids.

This tragedy has dominated the lives of Alan and Jennifer Roberts and that of their two sons.

They have waited almost 20 years to hear the truth about what happened to Claire to be set out in shocking detail by Mr Justice O'Hara, whose inquiry found there was an 'indefensible culture' in which doctors and managers were more concerned about protecting their reputations.

After the inquiry report was published, the family waited to hear what would happen next, regarding the doctors who had been criticised, plans for a fresh inquest into Claire's death and the duty of candour which Mr Justice O'Hara recommended.

They should not be left waiting but should be having regular updates from officials on the next steps.

The Department of Health also needs to show it is taking a robust approach to what is a highly significant report.

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