Ferguson family welcome new inquest

Raychel Ferguson
Raychel Ferguson

The parents of a nine-year-old Derry girl who died from Hyponatremia have said they hope a new inquest will establish how their daughter died.

A fresh inquest into Raychel Ferguson’s death has been ordered by the Attorney General John Larkin.

The nine-year-old died from Hyponatremia in the Royal Victoria Hospital in June 2001, just a day after she had an appendix operation at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry.

Her death was one of five examined by the 14-year Inquiry into Hyponatraemia-related Deaths (IHRD), led by Mr Justice O’Hara.

His report, which was published in 2018, found that there were several failings in the care Raychel received before her death.

Mr Justice O’Hara further found that there was a “reluctance amongst clinicians to openly acknowledge specific failings in Raychel’s care,” and described this as “wholly reprehensible”.

He recommended a new statutory “duty of candour” that would compel healthcare organisations to be “open and honest” and impose criminal liability on anyone in breach of this duty.

Marie and Ray Ferguson have welcomed the decision of the Attorney General to direct a fresh inquest into the death of their daughter.

“We also thank the Attorney General for his patience and time in considering all the evidence and factors our solicitor submitted to him on our behalf during the course of our application for a new Inquest. This included the revelations at the Inquiry, the Inquiry Report and further matters discovered by us after the report was published in 2018.”

The Ferguson’s said the first inquest into Raychel’s death was ‘unsatisfactory’.

“The first inquest into our daughter’s death held in 2003 remains entirely unsatisfactory with many troubling aspects on many levels and we made this clear to the Attorney General.

“We now expect all medical personnel, the Western and Belfast Trusts, The Department of Health and the legal advisors for the Trusts - the Directorate of Legal Services (DLS) - to demonstrate at this new inquest their Duty of Candour made so clear in Judge O’Hara’s Report.

“We expect in particular the DLS and the Western Trust not to withhold any documents from this new inquest.”

It is anticipated that the Coroner will convene the first of a number of Preliminary Hearings as soon as reasonably possible.

The Ferguson family said: “We look forward to that and assisting the Coroner in whatever way we can.”

Without wishing to comment on any individual cases, a Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) Spokesperson confirmed that the Trust “always cooperates fully and openly with any coroner’s inquest.”