Panels have existed in current form in England since 2013 to review information on unexpected child deaths, with the objective of preventing further deaths.
The South Belfast MLA stated: “The absence of Child Death Overview Panels in Northern Ireland is yet another way in which political inaction has left us falling behind neighbouring jurisdictions. The purpose of the Panels is to provide vital information and prevent further deaths in future, yet we find again there has been no concrete action to set them up here.
“My particular concern is that there remains no particular hurry to establish the Panels, and indeed the Department seems to believe they need only be ‘under consideration’. In fact the relevant legislation, the Safeguarding Board Act 2011, requires a committee called ‘the Child Death Overview Panel’ be established, not just considered or reviewed. Yet eight years on, I am informed that it is only under discussion.
“The Hyponatraemia Inquiry Report should also have provided further reason to focus on the delivery of this obligation.
“Yet again we find vulnerable people and the overall health of the population are suffering as the result of the absence of Ministers to ensure policy and legislation are acted upon, and the absence of Assembly Committees to scrutinise the work of Executive Departments. It is long since time the parties with the largest mandates accepted that they come with the largest responsibilities, and got on with the job of government.”