The chief executive of the Belfast Health Trust is to make a formal apology to families whose children died while in the care of one of the group’s hospitals.
The revelation came at the hyponatraemia inquiry in Banbridge, which is probing the deaths of five children by examining the fluid levels administered before their deaths. Hyponatraemia is caused by low blood sodium which causes brain swelling.
Speaking at the inquiry on Wednesday, Gerry McAlinden, lawyer for the Belfast Health Trust, said that a panel including the trust’s present chief executive, medical director, director of nursing and clinical director of the Children’s Hospital will appear before the inquiry.
He said that at the outset of the panel discussion “it is the intention of the chief executive to apologise to the families for the shortcomings in the management of the Belfast Trust, both in relation to the clinical management of the patients concerned and in relation to any shortcomings in governance which have been uncovered by this inquiry and, finally, in relation to the conduct of the litigation in relation to the case of Strain and in relation to any other case where the way in which the case has been managed has added to the distress of the families”.
The deaths of five children are being reviewed by the inquiry, all of whom were treated by the Belfast Trust. Three of them were also treated in other hospitals. Last month the Western Trust admitted liability for the death of one of them, nine-year-old Raychel Ferguson, in June 2001.
A Belfast Trust spokeswoman said the chief executive “intends to acknowledge the shortcomings in care and governance that occurred in the former Royal Hospitals Trust for which Belfast Trust is now responsible, and to apologise”.