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Health dept apologises for fatal errors

Finding of 'neglect' against hospital staff

The Health Department has issued "a sincere and unreserved apology", after an inquest into the death of a nine-month-old boy found staff failed to follow standard procedures, and were guilty of 'neglect'.

Coroner of Inquests John Needham's verdict said the boy died from gastrointestinal and respiratory failure, arising as a result of severe perinatal asphyxia, or lack of oxygen to the brain.

It's thought this damage was sustained during childbirth, where there was a 40 minute gap after the birth of his twin sibling - Mr Needham said staff missed 'repeated opportunities' to expedite the twins' delivery.

Minister for Health and Social Care, David Ashford MHK, said: ‘This inquest will have been distressing for the family, and my thoughts are with them and all those affected by the death. I offer sincere condolences on their unimaginable loss.

‘A finding of neglect by the Coroner is a matter of serious concern to me and senior colleagues in the Department and at Noble’s Hospital.’
The Minister added: ‘We recognise that there have been failings, at both individual and organisational level, and have acted and will act to rectify them. We have all learned from this tragic episode, in regard to the safe management of maternity services and the work processes of healthcare staff.’

He concluded: ‘I would like to reiterate on behalf of the Department, our apology to the family.’

The Coroner made a list of recommendations to the Health Department, in an attempt to ensure such a case does not happen again.

He also added that the case should not be forgotten or displaced because of shrinking budgets, cost cutting measures or the replacement of staff.

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