Northern Ireland

Peter McAneney's family criticise Southern Health Trust over his death

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Media captionPeter McAneney, from County Armagh, was admitted for a routine ear operation at Craigavon Area Hospital in 2012

The mother of a 21-year-old man has severely criticised the Southern Health trust for "failing her son" after he died weeks after an operation.

Peter McAneney, from County Armagh, was admitted for a routine ear operation at Craigavon Area Hospital in 2012.

Jennifer McAneney described the care her son received as "sub-standard".

A spokesperson for the trust said it recognised the "devastating impact" Peter's death had had on the McAneney family.

Mrs McAneney is also critical of why it took seven months before the trust launched a serious adverse incident investigation into her son's death.

"As a mother I have lost one of my greatest gifts," she said.

"Peter was our youngest and our only son and it's just been so long since I have heard him call my name and I just long to see him come down that path with his football bag.

"I have to keep searching for the answers why he died."

Catalogue of failings

Northern Ireland's coroner's office has begun its own investigation and has recruited the expertise of three health professionals.

The McAneney family has accused the health trust of a catalogue of failings, both during Peter's care, and after his death.

These include:

  • mismanagement of fluid
  • failure to carry out a chest X-ray
  • failure to record an adverse reaction during the CT scan process
  • document and record conversations
  • update clinical notes
  • detect and record signs of clinical deterioration
  • comply with clinical governance policies and procedures

Jennifer McAneney told the BBC the family has been hampered by the lack of response from health trust officials.

"I suppose over the last couple of years, the silence of the trust has been really deafening," she said.

"And that's one of the things that we'd noticed from the outset.

"It wasn't until we started to write to the agencies, the chief medical officer, the NI coroner's office, the RQIA (Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority), the chairman of the hyponatraemia inquiry and the health and social care board that our voice was finally heard."

The BBC has learned that seven months after Peter's death the Northern Ireland coroner's office wrote to the Southern Trust asking for a copy of the report into his death.

A report did not exist.

It was only at this stage that the health trust then reported Peter's death as a serious adverse incident (SAI).

It took a further three months for the investigation to be initiated.


In December 2012, following discussions with the pathologist and at the family's request, the coroner's office agreed to conduct its own investigation.

Image caption Jennifer McAneney described the care her son received as "sub-standard"

In a statement to the BBC, the Southern Health and Social care trust said: "The circumstances surrounding Peter's death are now the subject of a review by the Northern Ireland coroner's office and therefore we are unable to make any comment on the questions raised by the BBC.

"However, the trust has been co-operating fully with the coroner's office and we will continue to provide whatever assistance is requested while the review is ongoing."

In April 2012, Peter McAneney was admitted to hospital for an inner ear operation to his right ear.

He had undergone the procedure on two previous occasions to enhance his hearing and reduce infection.

However, without him having given his consent, he also received a titanium implant to improve his hearing.

But within three weeks Peter was readmitted as many times with ear infections and chest pains.

During an outpatients visit, he was diagnosed with an allergy to iodine.

Despite telling staff that he was allergic to iodine, Peter suffered an adverse reaction when given iodine in preparation for an X-ray.

Image caption The family said they were adamant they will continue to search for the truth about the circumstances surrounding their son's "untimely" death

Mrs McAneney has challenged the trust about why the incident was not recorded by staff, despite Peter collapsing and requiring oxygen.

He died within three weeks from his initial admission following two heart attacks.

His father Tommy described the past two years as a "living nightmare".

'Wall of silence'

"I still wake up around 4am every morning, the hour the hospital rang for us to come straight to the hospital. His death was so unexpected," he said.

"We have progressed this as far as we can. We need help to bring Peter's case to the forefront because we have been met by a wall of silence. They think they are untouchable."

Mr and Mrs McAneney said they are adamant they will continue to search for the truth about the circumstances surrounding their son's "untimely" death.

"It would have to be said, there would be no investigation by the health trust, they were more than happy to close Peter's case and that's what we find really shocking," Mrs McAneney said.

"There's only been an investigation because we pushed and pushed for it. It's very difficult for lay people to tackle the trust. It's more concerned about protecting their corporate identity than working with the likes of us."

The family's solicitor Paul Haughey believes the trust could have been more forthcoming with information.

"I believe that the family weren't properly informed of the gravity of Peter's condition from when he was admitted on 20 April 2012 for which was really a routine operation to his death on 10 May and that lack of communication appears to be a recurring theme throughout," he said.

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