Published by BBC NEWS - 2nd May 2023
  • Published
Raychel FergusonImage source, Pacemaker

The mother of a nine-year-old girl who died from hyponatraemia has said a new inquest that starts today is “an opportunity for truth”.

Raychel Ferguson, from Londonderry, died at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children in June 2001.

She died a day after an appendix operation at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry.

Her parents, Ray and Marie Ferguson, have long campaigned to find out the truth about their daughter’s death.

They told BBC News NI it was significant that their daughter’s second inquest was taking place in their home city.

Mrs Ferguson said she promised her daughter she would find out the truth about what happened and that is what keeps her going.

Hyponatraemia is an abnormally low level of sodium in blood and can occur when fluids are incorrectly administered.

Speaking outside Bishop Street courthouse, Mrs Ferguson said the fact there was a second inquest “speaks to the culture of cover up that has plagued her death, involving the medical and legal professions”.

“What happened in Raychel’s case was exposed as much as could be by Judge O’Hara in his inquiry report of 2018 which we welcome and rely on,” she said.

Marie and Ray Ferguson arriving at court as the inquest began

An inquiry in 2018 into the deaths of five children in Northern Ireland hospitals, including Raychel, found her death was avoidable.

The 14-year-long inquiry into hyponatraemia-related deaths was heavily critical of the “self-regulating and unmonitored” health service.

In his report in 2018, Mr Justice O’Hara found there was a “reluctance among clinicians to openly acknowledge failings” in Raychel’s death.

He said her death was the result of “negligent care”.

In January 2022, a new inquest opened but was postponed in October after new evidence came to light.

The inquest was ordered by the attorney general in 2019.

Mrs Ferguson has always maintained that all she ever wanted was the truth surrounding her daughter’s death.

“It remains to be seen whether the self-serving interests of the medical and legal professions continues, or if the truth is told in the interests of justice,” she said.

“As a family we will wait and see. ”




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