Belfast Telegraph

Justice at last for Claire

Helen McDowell

A Health Trust has admitted responsibility for the death 17 years ago of nine-year-old Claire Roberts.

The Castlereagh schoolgirl died at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children in 1996.

Last Thursday (17th), just days before the 17th anniversary of her death, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust admitted liability for the first time.

The development has been welcomed by Claire's father, Alan Roberts who said justice has finally been done.

The trust also admitted liability for the first time for the death of four-year-old Adam Strain at the same hospital on November 28, 1995.

The deaths of the two children and three others are the subject of an ongoing public enquiry. In particular it is looking at fluid management during their care and the issue of hyponatraemia – when there is a low amount of sodium (salt) in the blood.

A lawyer for the Belfast Trust said the health trust has written to Claire Roberts' family, with "a full and frank admission of liability on behalf of the Belfast Trust in relation to the death of Claire Roberts".

Mr Roberts said he will now push for another inquest into her death as there are many questions yet to be answered.

Claire was admitted to hospital on October 21, 1996 for observation after she suffered vomiting and lethargy. Her parents thought she was suffering from a tummy bug.

Two days later the schoolgirl died. Her death was not reported to the coroner.

The outcome of an inquest in 2006 found that Claire died due to cerebral oedema (excess fluid on the brain) and hyponatraemia.

The admission in Claire's case comes weeks after lawyers acting for her parents commenced legal action against the Belfast Trust in relation to Claire's death.

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