We wouldn’t accept it anyway, says family of woman who died by suicide
The family of a woman who died by suicide in a Northern Ireland hospital has said they have not received or accepted an apology from health bosses.
The mum of Orlaith Quinn has described her fury as she blasted a claim by the chief executive of the Belfast Trust that the family has “graciously accepted” an apology over the “preventable” death of her daughter.
Siobhan Graham also said they have had no direct contact from the Belfast Trust since a coroner issued an excoriating assessment of the care delivered to 33-year-old Mrs Quinn seven weeks ago.
“I graciously accept nothing, I still haven’t accepted Orlaith’s death, so I’m not going to accept an apology,” said Ms Graham.
Mrs Quinn took her own life at the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital less than two days after the birth of her third child — and just hours after a psychiatrist assessed her as not posing a risk of suicide.
Delivering her findings into the tragic case in May, coroner Maria Dougan said Mrs Quinn’s death was both “foreseeable” and “preventable”.
The case was discussed by the Belfast Trust board meeting on Thursday, when the trust’s chief executive, Dr Cathy Jack, said it was her understanding the trust had apologised to the family of Mrs Quinn.
She said the family “have graciously accepted” the apology and added: “I think it is only right we reiterate that apology. This was a tragic death, it was foreseeable and it was preventable and it should not have occurred.”
However, Ms Graham said the family has not received any direct contact from the trust since Ms Dougan delivered her devastating findings seven weeks ago.
She said the only apology the trust has made has been issued through the media.
“I saw their apology on the evening news with one of Orlaith’s wee sons,” she said.
“Other than that, we haven’t had one word from the trust and we wouldn’t accept their apology anyway. It’s only words, it’s too little, too late.
“The way Orlaith died is so terrible, I couldn’t accept any apology.
“I accept that people make mistakes, we all get things wrong. I accept that no-one that day set out to do a bad job, but the fact is that they did and my Orlaith lost her life.”
Ms Graham said the actions of the trust since her daughter’s death suggest to her that they are not truly sorry over the failings that led to her suicide.
“I even had to insist on a level three Serious Adverse Incident (SAI) investigation because the trust only wanted to carry out a level two SAI,” she continued.
“Their original SAI didn’t even consider the risk to my granddaughter in all of this.
“If the trust was serious about the apology and about learning from failings, they would have referred their staff to their regulatory bodies, instead of waiting for them to do it themselves.
“We’re four years down the line in October and no-one has been made accountable.
“It’s like these people are omnipotent and they’re never held to account.”
The Belfast Trust was asked to comment on the claims made by Dr Jack to the trust board on Thursday that the trust has apologised to the Quinn family and that the apology has been “graciously” accepted.
The trust was also asked to comment on its failure to refer any staff involved in Mrs Quinn’s care to their regulatory body.
A spokesman said: “Belfast Trust would like to reiterate its sincere and unreserved apology to the family of Mrs Orlaith Quinn.
“Orlaith’s tragic death was preventable and it should not have occurred. The trust continues to learn from the mistakes that were made.
“We hope this will prevent any other families experiencing the tragic loss that the Quinn family has suffered.
“The loss experienced by Mrs Quinn’s family is immeasurable and we offer them our deepest sympathies.”
He declined to comment further.
Ms Graham is the latest person to raise concerns over a lack of accountability when patients come to serious harm in Northern Ireland.
Last month, victims of the Michael Watt neurology scandal rejected assurances from the Belfast Trust that lessons had been learned over failings which led to the largest ever recall of patients.
Speaking after the damning findings of the Independent Neurology Inquiry, they said they wanted to know that individuals criticised in the report would be held to account.
At the time, Health Minister Robin Swann called on anyone criticised to report themselves to their regulatory body.
However, health officials have come under fire for failing to act over doctors heavily criticised by the Hyponatraemia Inquiry in 2018.
Robert Taylor was allowed to continue working for the Belfast Trust until last year despite the fact the chair of the Hyponatraemia Inquiry said he had not been honest about the death of four-year-old Adam Strain in 1995.
The former consultant paediatric anaesthetist was struck off last month after a tribunal found he had dishonestly misled police and the inquiry over Adam’s death.