Northern Ireland

Inquiry into deaths of children in NI hospital resumes

Raychel Ferguson
Image caption An inquiry into the death of Raychel Ferguson and others is to resume

A public inquiry into the deaths of four children in Northern Ireland sat on Wednesday for the first time in almost three years.

Raychel Ferguson, who was nine, died in 2001 in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children after surgery in Altnagelvin Hospital.

A public inquiry is being held into her death, and the deaths of three other children.

Raychel's mother, Marie Ferguson, says she will not give up on her fight for justice for her daughter.

"I have lived for 10 years with the guilt that I had done something wrong.

"I sat there in that hospital and watched Raychel dying. I will be glad to see the people involved in Raychel's care take the stand and tell me what went wrong.

"I want the truth."

The deaths of Adam Strain, Claire Roberts, and Conor Mitchell at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick children are also being investigated.

In each of the deaths fluid management was believed to be a factor.

Adam Strain died at the age of four on 28 November 1995.

Claire Roberts died aged nine on 23 October 1996.

The investigation will also investigate issues arising from the treatment of Conor Mitchell.

Conor, who was 15 and had cerebral palsy, died in 2003 at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children four days after being admitted to Craigavon Area Hospital.

The investigation into the death of 17-month-old Lucy Crawford from Fermanagh was dropped from the inquiry following a request from the victim's family.

After the amendment of the Inquiry's terms of reference to exclude any inquiry into the events surrounding and following the death of Lucy Crawford, the Inquiry concluded:

"The terms still permit and indeed require an investigation into the events which followed Lucy's death such as the failure to identify the correct cause of death and the alleged Sperrin Lakeland cover up because they contributed, arguably, to the death of Raychel in Altnagelvin.

"This reflects the contention that had the circumstances of Lucy's death been identified correctly, and had lessons been learned from the way in which fluids were administered to her, defective fluid management would not have occurred so soon afterwards (only 14 months later) in Altnagelvin, a hospital within the same Western Health and Social Services Board area."

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