Senior A&E staff shortage at Daisy Hill may be linked to boy’s death

January 16, 2017

A coroners’ court has heard that a shortage of senior A&E staff on duty may have contributed towards the death of a young boy hours after he was discharged from Daisy Hill Hospital.

Eleven-year-old Stephen McElroy, from Ballyward near Castlewellan, collapsed and died in Daisy Hill Emergency Department from pneumonia in March 2015. He had been discharged from the hospital just six hours earlier.

The court heard that a serious adverse incident report by the Southern Health Trust indicated that a more experienced member of staff at the emergency department may have considered another diagnosis before releasing Stephen.

The trust’s report also highlighted that the problem of recruiting appropriately trained staff on night duty was an issue for A&E departments across Northern Ireland.

A preliminary inquest hearing held in April last year was told of several issues raised in the trust’s report about the death of the popular P7 pupil. They included an alleged failure to diagnose the schoolboy’s condition correctly and a delay in placing him in a cubicle in the A&E department when he arrived a second time.

The preliminary hearing was also told that had a ‘middle grade’ doctor been available they may have been able to diagnose the fatal condition.

The case has been adjourned for two weeks to agree witnesses, with a full inquest expected to be heard later this year.