Council to be asked to back ‘Raychel’s Law’

Raychel Ferguson
Raychel Ferguson

Derry City and Strabane District Council will this week be asked to back a new law criminalising dishonesty on the part of health service staff that one local councillor believes should be named after young Derry girl, Raychel Ferguson, who died after being administered the wrong drip in Altnagelvin in 2001.

Raychel was aged just nine-years-old when she died from hyponatraemia - a shortage of sodium in the body - in the Royal Victoria Hospital on June 10, 2001, two days after being admitted to Altnagelvin with stomach cramps.

At the end of January the final report of Mr. John O’Hara’s 14 year Inquiry into Hyponatraemia-related Deaths (IHRD) in the North was published and found there had been several shortcomings in the care the former St. Patrick’s Primary School pupil received before she died.

Mr. O’Hara concluded that there had been an “obdurate reluctance amongst clinicians to openly acknowledge specific failings in Raychel’s care” and recommended a new statutory “duty of candour” be legislated for that would compel health care organisations to be “open and honest” in their dealings with patients and the public in future.

Raychel’s parents Ray and Marie Ferguson have said the new legislation, once implemented should be known as ‘Raychel’s Law’, in memory of their little girl.

Sinn Féin health spokesperson Patricia Logue agrees and will bring a motion to Thursday’s meeting of DCSDC calling for the implementation of ‘Raychel’s Law’.

She said: “I felt it was very important to bring this motion to the council in support of the Ferguson family in their campaign for a new statutory duty of candour to be called ‘Raychel’s Law’ in memory of their young daughter.

“The motion calls for the council to send condolences and solidarity to the families of Raychel Ferguson, Conor Mitchell, Claire Roberts, Adam Strain and Lucy Crawford following the publication of the report of the IHRD.

“It would also firmly commit the Council to supporting ‘Raychel’s Law’ - the demand for a statutory duty of candour in honour of those children who have died. The Hyponatraemia Inquiry was scathing in its criticism of the failings which led to the needless deaths of young children and of how their families were treated in the aftermath.

“Every possible step must be taken to prevent a repeat of that tragedy and I hope I get full cross party support for this motion when it comes before the Council on Thursday.”