Teen’s family criticises HSE ahead of inquiry into her death


The family of Aoife Johnston has spoken out against the HSE, as they say they were not consulted on the logistics of the inquiry into her death.

16-year-old Aoife tragically passed away on December 19, 2022, after waiting 12 hours in University Hospital Limerick’s emergency department for treatment for sepsis.

Aoife’s family have recalled that during those 12 hours, the beloved teenager’s condition began to deteriorate alarmingly, to the point where other patients were requesting her to be seen ahead of themselves.

“They saw that she was in serious danger and they too pleaded with the medical staff to attend to Aoife. They are living with that experience on a daily basis and it’s haunting them,” stated solicitor Damien Tansey, adding that her death was an “unspeakable tragedy”.

On Tuesday, the HSE announced the terms of reference for the independent inquiry that is being carried out into Aoife’s death. The report will be led by retired chief justice Frank Clarke.

The inquiry will include “an evidence-based report” on the circumstances of Aoife’s death, as well as the clinical and corporate governance of University Hospital Limerick.

However, the Johnston’s family solicitor has argued that Aoife’s loved ones were not consulted about the inquiry’s terms, and that they were only informed of the details through an email, the night before it was released to the public.

“There was absolutely no discussion or consultation with us, the legal representatives, or the Johnston family with a view to the makeup of those terms of reference,” Mr Tansey insisted in an interview on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland.

“Basic courtesy dictates, for example, that the family first should have been told in advance that the terms of reference were about to be published, and it was entirely inappropriate that they should learn about this effectively from the media,” he explained.

“Clearly, after due consideration and consultation with the family, we expect that we will seek to add to, or perhaps alter, some of the terms of reference,” he added.