Retired paediatrician Dr Steen acted dishonestly over death of Claire Roberts, 9, tribunal finds

Claire Roberts

A fitness to practise panel has found retired paediatrician Dr Heather Steen acted dishonestly over the death of nine-year-old Claire Roberts.

It has been a long painful wait for Claire's parents to get to this stage .

They fought a relentless campaign to uncover the truth behind the nine-year-old's death from hyponatremia - a drop in sodium levels in the blood - at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children in 1996 .

It was alleged that Steen covered up the actual circumstances surrounding her death.

She denied she was part of any cover-up.

The retired consultant paediatrician had earlier failed to halt a medical misconduct tribunal and on Monday it was determined that she had acted dishonestly - a claim Claire's parents had persisted in making as they grieved their little girl over the years.

The medical misconduct tribunal found Steen, who was accused of a cover-up over a little girl's death, did act dishonestly.

Previous hearings have heard claims from the General Medical Council (GMC) that Steen didn't properly explain the probable cause when she informed Claire's parents of her death in October 1996.

She has admitted that her communications with Claire's parents were inappropriate as she failed to disclose that it was necessary to refer their daughter's death to the coroner because it was sudden and unexplained.

Today's brief hearing was adjourned immediately after Steen was found to have acted dishonestly by the fitness to practise panel.

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) said it had found "most of the facts proved", including "the dishonesty allegation".

The panel will reconvene on Tuesday to consider whether Dr Steen's actions affected her fitness to practice.

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