Preventing child deaths: why Northern Ireland must do more

16 December 2019 News
NICCY Dudes Preventing Child Deaths

On 31 January 2018 the report of the Inquiry into Hyponatraemia-Related Deaths (IHRD) was published following an extensive investigation into the deaths of five children in hospitals in Northern Ireland.

The Department of Health is currently taking forward a programme of work to implement the recommendations arising from the Inquiry.

Commenting on the Department’s latest Progress Report published today, NI Commissioner for Children and Young People, Koulla Yiasouma said:

“The Inquiry recommended that the Department should review the merits of introducing a Child Death Overview Panel in Northern Ireland. I warmly welcomed this recommendation (88) as the statutory duty placed upon the Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland in 2011 to review child deaths, has never commenced.

“Having made repeated requests to the Department of Health for assurance that this important recommendation is being sufficiently progressed, I am deeply frustrated and very concerned at the lack of meaningful progress on this critical issue.  

“Approximately 150 children die every year in Northern Ireland. It is a tragedy when any child dies and it places a grave responsibility upon government and statutory agencies to learn from every death to ensure that where further deaths may be prevented, this is identified and acted upon. That is the purpose of a child death review process and I call on the Department of Health to urgently ensure that it is put in place in Northern Ireland.”


Notes to editor:

  • The Department’s latest Update Report (December 2019) is available here – Working Together to Put Things Right – Implementation of Recommendations from the Inquiry into Hyponatraemia-Related Deaths.
  • The 2018 Report of the Inquiry into Hyponatraemia-Related Deaths is available here.
  • The duty to undertake child death reviews is contained in The Safeguarding Board Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 in section 3(5)
  • The 2016 Independent Review of the Safeguarding Board recommended in 2016 that child death reviews be introduced in a phased manner and that the Public Health Agency may be a possible location for how this works
  • The Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health Professionals has repeatedly called for child death review processes to be established in Northern Ireland
  • NI Statistics and Research Agency statistical information on deaths by age in Northern Ireland is available here.

For further information:

Please contact James at NICCY Comms on 07917 544 177.