The mother of a nine-year-old girl who died as a result of medical negligence has said she can never forgive health professionals for trying to cover up their mistakes.
A damning report published on Wednesday found that the hyponatraemia-related deaths of four children in NI hospitals were avoidable, and that parents were lied to about what had happened to their sons and daughters.
A tearful Marie Ferguson said what the Western Trust had put her family through following her daughter Raychel’s death in 2001 was “horrific”.
She accused them of a lack of compassion, adding: “For hospital medical staff to make a mistake is forgivable, however to orchestrate a cover-up and to deliberately mislead is unforgivable.”
Raychel died at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Belfast shortly after transfer from Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry.
Her mother said the Western Trust had closed ranks to protect the reputation of Altnagelvin Hospital.
Mrs Ferguson told the media: “[Raychel] went into hospital as a young healthy girl and was neglected by the nurses, neglected by the doctors and ultimately died as a result of the negligence of those who we consider health professionals.
“They knew in 2001 what had happened ... but they lied saying it was a rare reaction to surgery.”
She said it would have been Raychel’s birthday on Sunday and the inquiry report had given her the best present possible – justice.
Mrs Ferguson said: “What I have experienced during this journey is inexcusable. The trust and their lawyers abused their position by trying to cover up the truth.”
She added: “No family should have to go through the mental and physical stress, hurt and undermining that we are still going through.”
Justice O’Hara, who delivered the report, said: “How much anguish, anger and frustration would the Fergusons and the other families have been spared over the years if they’d just been told the truth from the start?”
Meanwhile, following the delivery of the report there were angry scenes at the Crowne Plaza as a health official attempted to shake hands with one of the family members whose child’s death formed part of the inquiry.