Inquiry report on hospital deaths to be delayed to May

The final report of the hyponatraemia inquiry into the deaths of five children - including a Derry schoolgirl - in hospitals in Northern Ireland has been delayed, the tribunal’s chairman has said.

Mr Justice O’Hara said he had hoped to publish the report this month, but it will now be delayed until at least May.

He said it was because he had received extensive written submissions in recent weeks.

He added that it was “a necessary and time-consuming process”.

Mr Justice O’Hara said this was on top of “the huge number of transcripts, witness and expert statements which have to be cross-referenced”.

The 18-month investigation focused on the deaths of five children who died after being given an incorrect amount of fluid in Northern Ireland hospitals between 1995 and 2003.

The inquiry was set up in 2004, to examine the lack of records, a potential cover-up by health trusts and the information which was given to parents of the children.

Raychel Ferguson, Claire Roberts, Adam Strain, Lucy Crawford and Conor Mitchell all died between 1995 and 2003 and their deaths are linked to hyponatraemia, a condition caused by not having enough sodium in the body’s fluids.

Nine-year-old Raychel, from Derry, died in June 2001 following an operation to remove her appendix in Altnagelvin Hospital.

Her parents Marie and Ray have been campaigning ever since to establish the truth about the circumstances of her death.