ALLEGATIONS by a hospital whistleblower that evidence about the death of a Derry girl was withheld from the Hyponatremia Inquiry have been dismissed by health service authorities.
The claims are linked to the death of Raychel Ferguson.
Her parents are angry that they weren’t even told of the whistle-blower’s existence until now.
And mum Marie still believes the Western Trust is still covering up about her daughter’s death.
The Hyponatremia Inquiry is looking into the deaths of five children in hospitals in the North of Ireland.
Hyponatremia is an abnormally low level of sodium in the bloodstream, and the inquiry wants to know how the children’s fluid levels were mishandled.
Among the cases is Raychel Ferguson.
She was nine years old when, in 2001, she died after surgery for appendicitis in Altnagelvin Hospital.
A UTV documentary uncovered the errors that led to the hyponatremia deaths.
It prompted the Government to order an inquiry in 2004.
But 13 years on, and with the inquiry on the verge of publishing its final report, no one had told the Ferguson family of the existence of a whistleblower who had claimed evidence about Raychel was withheld from the inquiry or even destroyed.
Her mum Marie Ferguson said: “It’s an absolute disgrace.
“From day one the reason for the inquiry is because we were never told the truth and now I feel with the inquiry two weeks before they release the report, there’s a doubt in my mind now that the trust is still covering up.”
Des Doherty, the family’s solicitor, said the firmly believed the board’s investigation was “without merit” and that the family remained of the view that there had been an attempt to cover-up the truth.
The whistleblower’s allegations were looked into by health service authorities.
The Health and Social Care Board says it carried out “a full and thorough investigation … which found no evidence” of a deliberate attempt to remove or destroy equipment or evidence”.
The HSCB says it is “confident that no evidence was withheld from the inquiry”, but for the Fergusons it all leaves a sour taste.
As families wait for the inquiry’s final report, the Fergusons say their trust in the Hyponatremia Inquiry has been damaged.
A spokesperson for the Health and Social Care Board said a full and thorough investigation had been carried out, which found no evidence to support claims of any “deliberate attempt to remove evidence” or “any deliberate attempts to destroy evidence or equipment”.
The spokesperson also said that the board was confident that no evidence was withheld from the inquiry.