By Niall McCracken
THE chairman of the inquiry investigating the deaths of five children as a result of fluid overload has said that he “simply does not believe” how nobody from the Belfast trust can explain why stocks of the fluid central to criticisms dramatically declined.
New information emerged today around the Belfast Trust’s use of a low-sodium fluid central to an investigation into the death of five children as a result of fluid overload.
Solution 18 is at the heart of criticisms made in relation to the fluid management of the children whose deaths are being investigated by the Hyponatraemia Inquiry.
New documents provided by the trust show that the number of bags of solution ordered in the Children’s Hospital in Belfast dropped dramatically after the death of nine year-old Raychel Ferguson in July 2001. However legal representation for the trust told the inquiry that they are making “every effort to try and find out why this came about”.
Reacting to this, inquiry chairman Mr Justice O’Hara said: “I would like the answer to one basic question: what happened to the purchase of Solution No. 18? Nobody has been to tell me this yet and I would really like an answer to this. Dr Nesbitt has said he was told by the Royal Trust at the time when he contacted them after Raychel died and I simply don’t believe that nobody knows.”
A letter that forms part of the inquiries evidence from June 2001 outlines an awareness at an early stage around the children’s hospital’s policy towards Solution 18.
A letter from Dr Nesbitt, then clinical director of Altnagelvin Hospital, to Medical Director Raymond Fulton from June 2001 states: “I have contacted several hospitals including the Royal Hospital for Sick Children and made enquiries about pre-operative fluid management. The Children’s hospital’s anaesthetists have recently changed their practice and have moved away from No. 18 solution.”
Dr Nesbitt goes onto state in the letter that the Children’s Hospital “no longer uses Solution No. 18 ”.