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Probe into pensioner's 34 broken bones after death at Altnagelvin Hospital was 'wholly inadequate'

By Donna Deeney

The family of a woman who sustained 34 broken bones after she died have left a report into the Western Trust's "wholly inadequate" investigation into her injuries in the hands of their legal team.

Maureen McGinley (78), from Strabane, died in January 2007 at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry.

It later transpired she sustained multiple broken bones after she had passed away.

Despite the family's vigorous campaign to find out what happened to their mother, the Western Trust maintained a stony silence.

Just days before the 10th anniversary of Mrs McGinley's death, her family were presented with the Northern Ireland Ombudsman's report into the Trust's investigation.

While the report criticises the Trust, Mrs McGinley's son Martin told the Belfast Telegraph it still leaves the family ignorant of what exactly led to her injuries.

Mr McGinley said: "This report confirms what we knew all along and that was something happened to our mother's remains at Altnagelvin Hospital that caused all of these breakages.

"The hospital for so long has tried to make out we were crazy for even suggesting that our mother's bones didn't break themselves.

"A few days ago we received a 15-line letter from the Trust saying sorry, but we still don't know exactly what happened.

"The report suggested a number of possible ways that our mother's bones could have broken but only the Trust can give us the exact cause. For that reason we have left the report in the hands of our legal team for their consideration and we will be advised by them what further options are open to us."

Mr McGinley continued: "For 10 years this has been like an open wound for our family. We loved and cherished our mother while she was alive and, like any family, we would have wanted to think she was treated with respect after she died.

"The Ombudsman's report was painful to read but it vindicated what we have been saying for 10 years."

The report, sections of which have been covered by news website The Detail, stated that the Trust said it had been "open and honest with the family at all times and was always committed to ensuring that their concerns would be fully investigated".

"This has not been borne out by the facts of this case which in my view reflect a wholly inadequate response," the report stated.

Delving into how Mrs McGinley sustained the injuries, the report suggested her bones were broken accidentally, not as the result of any deliberate action.

It suggested her bones could have been broken during a procedure known as "Last Orders" carried out shortly after death, when the patient's body is washed and dressed for viewing by the family.

The Ombudsman noted that Mrs McGinley had osteoporosis - a condition found mostly in older females which weakens the bones and makes breakages more likely.

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