Findings of delayed inquiry into hospital child deaths to be published

The long-delayed findings of an inquiry into the hospital deaths of five children in Northern Ireland will be published later.

The Hyponatraemia inquiry, which was set up almost 14 years ago, examined whether fatal errors were made in the administration of intravenous fluids.

Hyponatraemia is a dangerous, sometimes fatal, condition caused by low sodium levels in the blood.

The probe investigated the deaths of four-year-old Adam Strain, who died in November 1995; Claire Roberts, who died aged nine in October 1996; and nine-year-old Raychel Ferguson, who died in June 2001.

It also examined events following the death of 17-month-old Lucy Crawford in April 2000 as well as specific issues arising from the treatment of 15-year-old Conor Mitchell in May 2003.

All five children were being treated at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children when they died, although some had been transferred from hospitals in other parts of Northern Ireland.

Inquiry chairman Sir John O'Hara, a High Court judge, is due to deliver his conclusions in Belfast on Wednesday afternoon.

The probe, estimated to have cost in excess of £15 million, has been hit by multiple delays.

It was first ordered in 2004 by the then-direct rule minister for health in Northern Ireland Angela Smith after allegations that mistakes had been made by hospital staff administering intravenous fluids.

The inquiry initially examined the deaths of Lucy, Raychel and Adam. Claire and Conor's deaths were added to the terms of reference in 2008.

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