Child Death Review mechanism initiative
In April 2007, the Ombudsman for Children approached the Minister for Health and Children and advised that consideration be given to the operation of a child death review mechanism in Ireland. Such mechanisms already exist in other countries. Typically, their aim is to review child deaths and to make recommendations aimed at avoiding preventable deaths in the future.
The initiative was prompted by a number of instances of child death which were brought to the attention of the OCO and in respect of which the review process appeared unclear. These cases underscored the need for a mechanism in Ireland which guarantees that child deaths are reviewed consistently, both in terms of the instigation of the review and the manner in which the review is conducted.
The OCO looked at international practice in this area to see how we could learn from other countries and also consulted with a range of bodies from both the statutory and voluntary sector with mandates relevant to the examination of child death. To advance discussion on how such a mechanism might operate, the Ombudsman for Children hosted a high-level seminar in April 2008 attended by key independent statutory bodies, state agencies, Government departments and international experts. The aim of the seminar was to bring together organisations that could potentially have a role in such a mechanism in order to facilitate an initial discussion about current practice and possible changes that could be implemented.
In February 2009, the Ombudsman for Children's Office produced an options paper setting out what aspects of child death are already being examined in Ireland and what issues should be considered in the context of establishing a child death review mechanism in this jurisdiction. This formed the basis of discussions between the OCO and the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children.
On 8 March 2010, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs announced that he had established an Independent Group to examine the results of completed reviews of deaths of children in care since 2000. However, the Independent Group encountered difficulties in accessing documentation necessary for the performance of its functions. The Government decided to overcome these obstacles and address the question of the provision of sensitive information by the HSE to investigatory bodies more generally by introducing the Health (Amendment) Bill 2010.
A draft of the Bill was referred to this Office on 14 June 2010 from the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and OCO sent our Advice on 15 June 2010.
Advice of the Ombudsman for Children on the Health (Amendment) Bill 2010
Child Death Review Options paper
Child Death Review Seminar background paper