Family fury at GMC over pair’s death

The family of a Derry mother who killed her daughter before taking her own life have slammed the General Medical Council after they cleared all doctors associated with her case of wrongdoing.

Madeline O’Neill (41), originally from the Rock Road, took her own life on July 12th 2005 after killing her daughter Lauren at their family home in Carryduff, Co Down. Mrs O’Neill, who had been suffering from depression, had just discharged herself from Gransha hospital after being transferred from Knockbracken in Belfast.

An independent inquiry into the deaths of Madeleine and Lauren O’Neill in 2008 disclosed that in the last month of their lives, health care staff missed a number of opportunities to get the mother and daughter help - opportunities which could have saved them. At the time it was revealed how two months before her death Madeleine told her GP and a private counsellor about having suicidal thoughts and had made a reference to “taking Lauren with her”.

Her medical files went missing on transfer to Gransha Hospital and it was alleged that doctors failed to evaluate the risk the mother posed to her daughter and failed to put child protection procedures in place.

The GMC last week cleared all health professionals involved in the case of wrongdoing and deemed them still fit to practise.

The Gormley family say they cannot understand why no one has been reprimanded and that a decision of no fault was found with all of the doctors involved.

“As a family we are not concerned with the ruination of anyone’s career; we accept that anyone can make a mistake or have a bad day or an ‘off’ day. What we cannot accept is that, following a catalogue of failures from start to finish, from one doctor to another, no-one, no-one has ever been reprimanded in any way. And by all accounts, judging by the outcome of the GMC Investigation, no-one ever will.

“It doesn’t exactly fill us with pride, respect or faith in our Health Service. How could it? Madeleine and Lauren are both dead and nothing we do now can change that. We don’t know for sure if Madeleine could ever have been saved from whatever demons tortured her, but we do believe with all our hearts, that if any of the doctors involved in Madeleine’s treatment and care had done their jobs right, then Lauren would indeed still be with us today.

“What is heartbreaking is that no-one in our health service seems to acknowledge this fact and that the GMC, a professional ‘independent’ body meant to oversee the health service, doesn’t acknowledge it either.

“They realise that grave mistakes were made, but somehow they just weren’t bad enough.....Madeleine and Lauren are both dead – how bad do they have to be? We are left with two conclusions which make sad reading for us and others in a similar position. Firstly the Health service cannot ultimately be held independently accountable and secondly the GMC, a supposedly independent organisation to oversee medical professionals, is a toothless organisation without any real power or will to act.”

A spokesperson for the General Medical Council said: “The GMC does not discuss individual fitness to practise investigations, as we have a duty of confidentiality to all parties involved during that process.”