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Hospital deaths report will be delayed

VICTORIA O’HARA

THE final report of the inquiry which investigated the deaths of five children across hospitals in Northern Ireland has been delayed, the tribunal's chairman has said.

Justice John O'Hara QC had aimed to present the Hyponatraemia Inquiry report to Health Minister Edwin Poots in May.

But yesterday he said he needed more time to finish his work.

Mr Justice O'Hara is investigating the deaths of five children in hospitals between 1995 and 2003.

"Whilst considerable progress has been made in all areas which will be covered in the report, I need some more time to complete my work so that all of the issues are dealt with as fully and fairly as possible. I will issue a further update at the end of May to ensure that everyone is kept informed about progress," he said.

The inquiry is examining the deaths of three children: Adam Strain (4), Claire Roberts (9) and Raychel Ferguson (9). It is also investigating the events following the deaths of Lucy Crawford (17 months) and Conor Mitchell (15).

In four of the deaths, hyponatraemia was said to be a contributing factor. This is the term for a low level of sodium in the bloodstream, which causes the brain cells to swell with too much water.

On August 30, 2013 the Western Health and Social Care Trust admitted liability over the death of Raychel, who died in June 2001, a day after an appendix operation at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry.

She was administered a lethal dose of intravenous fluid after her appendix was removed.

The Belfast Trust has also apologised for shortcomings in the deaths of five children in its care.

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