HSE waits for legal advice on report into girl's death
Published 31/05/2010 | 05:00
A NEW inquiry into the death of a child whose welfare was being monitored by the State may be released within weeks.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) is awaiting legal advice on whether to publish an inquiry into the death of a young girl it was told needed urgent help, three years before she died.
It received the findings of an external probe into the death of the girl, who was a client of its child protection services, more than two months ago but they are still not public knowledge.
If legal experts allow the new report to be published, it would come just weeks after the HSE released two other reports into separate child deaths.
An external review was called after Cara Murphy (not her real name) died on January 21, 2007, after inhaling solvents from a deodorant can.
She was travelling in a car with friends when she fell ill, and was pronounced dead at a filling station just a few miles from her home.
The 14-year-old had come to the attention of gardai and social services, and at a case conference in 2004 it was decided to put her into care.
But the HSE failed to act on this assessment and in 2005 a spokesman for the agency said it had "settled" the teenager's situation and chose not to take her out of the family home.
Last night, an HSE statement said it received the external review into Cara's death on March 18, adding: "It has always been the intention of the HSE to publish this external review.
"However, there will also be a requirement to consider the confidentiality aspects of the review in the context of family and sensitive information.
"The HSE is currently awaiting legal advice."
The head of children's charity Barnardos, Fergus Finlay, said the publication of the report was essential to highlight the standard of care, and that it and other inquiries should be passed on to the new independent review body set up more than two months ago.
"The key thing is not the death of a child, it's the quality of the intervention," he said.
Harry Ferguson, professor of social work at the University of Nottingham, was appointed to carry out the review a month after Cara's death.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, he confirmed the inquiry had been completed three years after being given the task, and that it was delivered to the HSE. But he added: "The protocol would be not to comment further until the report is published."
Local HSE health manager Bernard Gloster, who was recently assigned to the compilation of figures regarding child deaths, said the HSE wanted "nothing more" than to be "fully co-operative" with a review group that is investigating the death of children in state care.
Following the revelation that 37 children died in its care (19 of natural causes and 18 of unnatural causes) in the last 10 years, the HSE will release another figure on child deaths on Friday.
This tally relates to children that were not in its care but clients of its child protection services who died.