Friday 15 December 2017

HSE made numerous attempts to discuss Tracey's death with mother

Mum of tragic Tracey says she hoped teen would come with her to live in the UK with her partner

MAEVE SHEEHAN

Doreen Fay said this weekend that she stood by her account of her dealings with the Health Services Executive (HSE) about the publication of a report into her daughter's tragic death from a drugs overdose while in State care.

Ms Fay claims she was contacted just once by the HSE in advance to discuss the report last October, the first time she had heard from the HSE in eight years.

Ms Fay, who suffers from depression, said she did her best by her daughter who was disturbed from a childhood spent in hostels and bed and breakfasts when the family waited for local authority housing.

She said that she asked Tracey to join her when she moved to England from Dublin, when Tracey was in her early teens, but she claimed the child didn't want to go. The child lived with her grandparents and after her grandmother died, spent some time with her aunts and uncles.

"I really tried me best. I really did. My sister took her in. My brother took her in. They took her in a few times. But she was going out late. She was disturbed," she said.

She said she put Tracey into voluntary care when she went back to England, where she had a chance of getting a proper house.

"I had Tracey, who I was trying to sort out, and I had my other kids. I got very tired walking around the streets and dragging them around. They weren't even getting proper food. They weren't getting a decent dinner when you are living in a bed and breakfast," she said.

"I was hoping that she would change and come around and come back to me and her sisters and brothers. I was hoping that would happen," she said to the Sunday Independent yesterday.

Responding to her claims, the HSE said it contacted Tracey Fay's mother or her representative on at least nine occasions in an effort to share the report's findings with her in advance of its publication, in the latest twist in the controversy over deaths of children in care.

Tracey Fay died of an overdose in a coal bunker in 2002, aged 18, after spending four years in State care, yet a damning report on how her case was handled remained unpublished until a leaked copy was obtained by Alan Shatter, the Fine Gael Td, last week. Mr Shatter has claimed the report was deliberately concealed in an attempt to "hide the failures" of the health authorities.

In a series of interviews, Doreen Fay, who put her daughter into care before she moved to England, contradicted the HSE's version of events.

She said: "I have not heard from them in eight years until October 5 last year. I was told they would be publishing the report soon and they wanted to speak to me. I couldn't believe it after all that time to have a call out of the blue.

"I told the woman on the phone I wasn't well and I didn't know what was going on. I said I wanted someone to speak to me face to face and that I didn't want to talk on the phone."

She said she has not been contacted since.

Minister for Children Barry Andrews last week insisted that the HSE had been trying to share the full content of the report with the girl's mother before publication.

In an unusual departure, the HSE released more details of its attempts to contact Doreen Fay. A spokesperson said when it was clear that publication of the report was imminent in early October 2009, the HSE contacted Doreen Fay three times by telephone to arrange a meeting to go through the report's harrowing findings. She was also sent a copy of the report's recommendations in the post.

According to the HSE, Ms Fay was unwell and felt unable to deal with the report at the time. She asked the HSE to deal with her link worker in the UK. Her link worker was contacted at least six times by the HSE, with a view to scheduling a meeting with Ms Fay to discuss the report. One was arranged in January but the HSE officials were advised not to travel because bad weather in the UK meant it would not be possible to travel to see Ms Fay.

The HSE claimed it had ongoing contact with Ms Fay's link worker throughout January and February and a meeting was eventually scheduled for March. Ms Fay was also contacted by the HSE last week and has indicated that she wants to nominate another family member to meet the health authorities on her behalf.

The release of the details by the HSE shows the enormous pressure it is under to explain why it has yet to publish a single report on the 20 children who died in care since 2000 and the deaths of three young adults who were on "after-care" programmes.

The controversy was ignited again this week when the leaked report on the case of Tracey Fay was published by Mr Shatter. The independent report was commissioned soon after Tracey's death but was not finished until late 2008. It was given to Mr Andrews, in March 2009.

They claimed that it was not published until the girl's mother had been contacted. It strongly criticises the State's "chaotic" provision of care accommodation and highlights the missed opportunities to protect Tracey. It showed how even before she was taken into care, she came to the attention of social services as a young child. Her teeth were knocked out when she was assaulted at the age seven.

The report found that she suffered serious physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her mother and her mother's partner, when they lived in the UK. Her grandmother in Dublin took the child in after she suffered a fractured skull in the UK. But after the child's grandmother died, Tracey was voluntarily placed into State care by her mother when she was 14. She wanted to return to England to live with her partner.

Over the following four years in care, Tracey went missing 23 times, was taken to hospital on numerous occasions and spent 255 nights in 20 different bed and breakfasts. She became pregnant twice; became involved in prostitution and using heavy drugs. Her children were taken into care.

The HSE has since promised that publication of reports into two deaths in care is imminent, another six reviews are in progress and two cases are subject to legal constraints. The other deaths were found not to warrant a report, prompting calls for a full inquiry into all of the deaths of 23 people in care or after care of the HSE.

Sunday Independent

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