Belfast Telegraph

Southern Health Trust's apology for Conor's death too late, says family

BY MICHELLE SMYTH

The family of a young boy who died in hospital in 2003 has blasted the Southern Health Trust's apology for their son's death as "cynical".

The family of Conor Mitchell also believe the apology, which comes more than a decade after the 15-year-old's death at the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children in Belfast, is too late.

The Lurgan boy's death is one of five cases being investigated at Banbridge Courthouse as part of the Hyponatraemia Inquiry.

The Belfast Health Trust accepted liability last week for the deaths of Claire Roberts (9) and Adam Strain (4) – but not Conor's.

In August, the Western Health and Social Care Trust accepted liability for the death of nine-year-old Raychel Ferguson.

Last week, the Southern Health Trust wrote to Conor's family to admit liability for failing to implement Department of Health guidelines for preventing hyponaetraemia – abnormally low levels of sodium caused by improper fluid management. The guidelines had been published a year before his death.

But, yesterday, lawyers for the Southern Health Trust went further and said the trust now admits there was a form of seizure activity occurring prior to Conor's death – something his family believe played a significant part in his death.

The trust also apologised for the lack of communication between themselves and the family, who believe Conor should have been admitted to a paediatric ward rather than an adult ward.

Family lawyer Sarah Ramsey said there was a failure in relation to communicating his fluid needs.

Conor's parents said the apology had simply added to their cynicism. "The trust have admitted they failed to train relevant staff in the guidelines and that even paediatric nurses were not properly trained in these essential elements of care," they said.

"To give equivocal admissions on these failings and to continue with the partial admissions is not acceptable to the family. The family firmly believe the fluid management and seizures played a significant part in Conor's death. The conflicting evidence will need to be reviewed in detail before further steps are taken," she said.

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