Finally: brazen trust admit liability for Raychel's death
The mother of a young girl who died following an operation to remove her appendix says a health trust had "no choice" but to admit liability for her death 12 years ago.
Marie Ferguson condemned the behaviour of the Western Health and Social Care Trust as "disgusting" over the years as her parents fought to get the truth behind their only daughter Raychel's treatment at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry.
An admission of liability and an offer of a negotiated settlement was read out yesterday at the Hyponatraemia Inquiry, as the Fergusons and their solicitor Des Doherty listened intently.
Marie and Raymond Ferguson never accepted the circumstances behind the loss of Raychel (9), who died in 2001 in hospital a day after the operation and after being administered with a lethal dose of intravenous fluid.
Her death was investigated as part of the the Hyponatraemia Inquiry, a condition which causes the brain cells to swell because of a low level of sodium in the bloodstream.
"I've done what I set out to do," Mrs Ferguson said.
"I promised Raychel the last time she left the house in her coffin that I would get justice for her, so I hope that she's up there today looking down."
"The trust had no choice but to admit liability as the evidence was there, the experts were saying it.
"This should have been done a long time and could have saved a lot of heartache for me and my family."
Despite welcoming the admission of liability, Mrs Ferguson said that she was still "angry" with the trust.
"This has been the first time that the trust and doctors and nurses have been brought to book, made to stand up and admit to that they have done wrong.
"All along the trust behaviour towards us has been disgusting.
"I remember at Raychel's inquest that one of their barristers had questioned me and said if Raychel was that sick, 'then why did you leave'?
"Every parent knows their our own child, and we kept telling them constantly that Raychel was just not well, but they weren't taking anything on board."
The Fergusons were made aware of the trust's admission of liability in Raychel's death just before the inquiry started yesterday morning as a copy of the letter had been given to their barrister.
The fact that the trust has offered to negotiate a settlement has also angered Mrs Ferguson.
"I was very surprised to read the last few lines of the letter when the trust talked about settlement.
"This was never about money – money can't bring Raychel back to us.
"I still have to live the rest of my life with the pain, knowing she's not here."
Mrs Ferguson paid special tribute to her solicitor Des Doherty for his dedication in working on Raychel's behalf.
The Hyponatraemia Inquiry in Banbridge is examining the deaths of three children – Adam Strain (4), Claire Roberts (9) and Raychel Ferguson (9), all of whom died in hospital between 1995 and 2001.
It is also investigating events following the death of Lucy Crawford (17 months) and specific issues arising from the treatment of Conor Mitchell (15), both of whom also died in hospital.
Hyponatraemia is a condition where there is not enough salt in the body, causing the brain to swell.