Belfast Telegraph

Report isn't the end for us, it's just the beginning, says grieving father


Claire Roberts
Claire Roberts

By Lisa Smyth

The publication of yesterday's report came 4,808 days after the Hyponatraemia Inquiry was announced.

But the fight for truth by the parents of the children at the centre of the inquiry has been significantly longer.

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To put it into perspective, Alan Roberts - father of nine-year-old Claire - was 38 when he lost his daughter. He will turn 60 next year.

Like all the parents of the children at the centre of the Hyponatraemia Inquiry, he has dedicated his life to getting answers.

In the case of Alan and his wife, Jennifer, they are calling for a fresh inquest and PSNI probe into the death of Claire and subsequent handling of the case by her doctors and health officials.

"The inquiry chair used the words 'cover-up' in relation to what happened with Claire and they are very strong words," he said.

"They were the words we wanted to hear.

"Not only did they lie to us, they also lied to the coroner under oath so we are going to be pressing for another police enquiry, as well as an investigation into the criminal aspects around Claire's care."

Mr Roberts said the first time he and his wife realised they had not been told the truth about how and why their daughter Claire died was after watching the UTV Insight programme, When Hospitals Kill.

"That was eight years to the day after Claire had been admitted to the Royal Belfast Hospital," he continued.

"For eight years we had struggled with grief and the trauma of losing our precious daughter.

"The programme detailed the cases of three other children who had died from hyponatraemia and IV fluid mismanagement.

"We then met with doctors from the hospital on December 7, 2004, and realised immediately that there were serious shortcomings in Claire's care management and that the doctors were not being truthful."

Describing Claire as a happy, fun-loving and energetic child who loved school outings and activities, such as horse riding and swimming, Mr Roberts continued: "She was our only daughter and sister to her two older brothers. Claire's death was wholly avoidable and totally preventable.

"The medical care management that Claire received, the basic and elementary failures and errors made by doctors is shocking.

"The loss of a child brings unbearable distress, sadness and emotional turmoil. To lose a child as a result of gross medical negligence intensifies all those emotions and adds anguish, everlasting pain and mental torment.

"To then have to fight for truthful answers for more than 21 years is shameful and unforgivable.

"However, today isn't the end for us, it is just the beginning."

Belfast Telegraph


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