Public consultation on Inquiries into Deaths (Scotland) Bill opens
Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson is today (Friday) holding a press conference in Glasgow to launch a public consultation on a members’ Bill which aims to radically overhaul Scotland’s controversial FAI system. The Inquiries into Deaths (Scotland) Bill aims to create a system for investigating sudden and accidental deaths which is fit for purpose; allowing for a thorough investigation; and subsequently allowing for lessons to be learned from the death.
Most importantly the Bill aims to put the families of the deceased at the heart of the process which is one of the most common criticisms of the current system for investigating fatal accidents. Member for Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Patricia Ferguson MSP who is launching the draft Bill said: “Unfortunately I have witnessed first-hand the devastation caused to families following the death of a loved one by the woeful system we have in place to carry out a fatal accident inquiry. After suffering the trauma and heartache of losing a family member in sudden or unexplained circumstances it surely should not be too much to ask that the process for investigating this death does not cause further agony and grief.
“As my consultation highlights, there are many families who have had to fight the system – sometimes for many years – just to be granted the right for an FAI to be heard. They have felt excluded, exasperated and angered by a system which is simply not fit for purpose. I hope that through this consultation, we will create the foundations for a new system which will address these serious issues and provide a mechanism which allows families to understand what happened, why it happened and feel reassured that provisions are being made to prevent it happening again to someone else.”
Thompsons Solicitors has acted for numerous families who have been through the FAI process and know all too well the flaws in the system. Partner Patrick McGuire added: “Patricia Ferguson’s draft bill would provide legislation which is badly lacking in Scotland. The current system is utterly draconian and serves little purpose other than to rub salt in the wounds of families who have already suffered enormous tragedy. Scotland is crying out for a system which would examine fatal accidents in an open and transparent manner; place the families at the heart of the process; and has teeth to actually implement change for the better.”
The family of Ronald McAllister, who died in October 2006, have experienced the frustrations of the current FAI system. Mr McAllister died after a needle dislodged during dialysis at Glasgow Royal Infirmary resulting in hypoxic brain damage as a result of being deprived of blood and oxygen for a period of time following a cardiac arrest. He later died in Glasgow’s Stobhill Hospital. It took six and a half years for the FAI determination to be issued. In a joint statement, his daughter Andrea Little and Beverley Taylor, said: “We are saddened and disappointed it took such a long time to reach this point. It has taken over six years since our father died for us to have these answers and in our opinion the stress and the toll that has taken on our everyday lives and our families is totally unacceptable.
“No family should be made to suffer in this way for such a sustained period of time and we truly hope the Crown Office will take heed of this determination and seek to improve the way they operate when dealing with fatal accident inquiries.”
The public consultation on the Inquiries into Deaths (Scotland) Bill opens today (Friday) at a press conference in Glasgow. The consultation runs until 22nd November 2013.
Notes to editors: The consultation will be officially launched at a press conference at the STUC headquarters, 333 Woodlands Road, Glasgow G3 6NG at 9.30am, Friday 2nd August. Journalists and photographers are invited to attend.
A full copy of the consultation document can be downloaded from www.scottish.parliament.uk
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