New key witness evidence in child death inquiry

The inquiry will start on February 20th

The inquiry will start on February 20th

One of the key witnesses in the inquiry into the deaths of children from suspected fluid overload in hospitals here has acknowledged his responsibility in managing the fluids that contributed to the death of four-year-old Adam Strain.

The Inquiry into Hyponatreamia-related Deaths in Children was established in 2004 and was primarily set up to investigate the deaths of Adam Strain, Claire Roberts, Raychel Ferguson and Conor Mitchell.

Hyponatraemia is a condition which results in a low level of sodium in the blood stream causing the brain cells to swell with too much water and in some cases resulting in death.

Dr Bob Taylor was the consultant anaesthetist present during Adam Strain’s kidney transplant surgery in November 1995.

A letter from Dr Taylor was circulated by the inquiry to the family’s legal representatives on Thursday of this week.

Speaking at Banbridge Court House, Chairman John O’ Hara QC described the letter as “significant”.

In Adam’s case, the inquiry was primarily set up to investigate the care and treatment that he received, especially in relation to the management of his fluid and electrolyte balance.

Speaking about Dr Taylor’s letter Mr O’Hara said: “In light of what Dr Taylor conceded, to put it bluntly, we will consider what affect, if any, it will have on our schedule”.

Adam Strain’s family’s barrister, David McBrien, instructed by David Hunter of Hunter Associates in Coleraine, relayed to the inquiry that the initial reactions of Adam’s mother Debra Slavin was that “this is just the start.”

Referring to Dr Taylor’s letter Mr McBrien stated to the inquiry that Dr Taylor had decided to write the letter after reflecting on criticism of his anaesthetic treatment of Adam in the expert witness reports from late 2011.

Mr Mc Brien said at the hearing that he was concerned that it had taken 16 years for Dr Taylor to produce such a letter on the day before the inquiry’s last prehearing.

The public hearings were delayed in November last year when the inquiry was made aware of new documents discovered by the Belfast Trust.

The final schedule for the inquiry will see it run from February 20th until November 19th this year.

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