Apology ‘cynical’ say family of Lurgan boy who died in hospital

Conor Mitchell
Conor Mitchell

The family of Lurgan teenager Conor Mitchell have described an apology from the Southern Health Trust for the death of their son as “cynical”.

The 15-year-old was initially treated at Craigavon area hospital and was later transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children in Belfast where he died on May 12, 2003.

The events following Conor’s death are being investigated during the ongoing hyponatraemia inquiry in Banbridge, looking at the deaths of three children and events following the deaths of two other children.

Last week the Southern Health Trust wrote to Conor’s family accepting liability for failing to implement guidelines. Since then the legal team acting on behalf of the trust told the family they now accept Conor had exhibited some form of seizure activity while in hospital.

A statement has been released by the solicitor of Conor’s family. It reads: “In light of recent developments and communications from the Southern Trust the family question what now appear to be cynical admissions and apologies. The fact that these have been extracted after 10 and half years on the eve of hearings into elements of the treatment of Conor adds to this cynicism.

“The trust have admitted they failed to train relevant staff in the guidelines and that even paediatric nurses were not properly trained in these essential elements of care. To give equivocal admissions on these failings and to continue with the partial admissions is not acceptable to the family.

“The trust have also referred to a further offer of a meeting. The family will be seeking clarification as to what restrictions will be placed on the terms of this meeting as the single previous offer made was subject to substantial restrictions on what the trust were prepared to discuss.

“In light of these continued prevarications Conor’s family will now have to consider what further steps they can take to investigate the failings in education, record keeping, communication and other aspects of Conor’s treatment in Craigavon Hospital.

“The family firmly believe that the fluid management and the seizures played a significant part in Conor’s death.

“The conflicting evidence will need to be reviewed in detail before further steps are taken.”

The hyponatraemia inquiry is examining the deaths of three children, Adam Strain, Claire Roberts and Raychel Ferguson.

It is also investigating the events following the deaths of Lucy Crawford and Conor Mitchell.