Saturday 23 March 2019

Dublin mother sues HSE to 'expose flaws' in health system after Milly suicide

Fiona Tuomey is suing the HSE over the death of Milly
Fiona Tuomey is suing the HSE over the death of Milly

The mother of an 11-year-old girl who died by suicide is suing the HSE to "expose the flaws" within the Irish healthcare system.

Fiona Tuomey believes that certain failings contributed to her daughter Milly's death in 2016. According to reports, the legal proceedings in the High Court are against the HSE, a private psychology clinic and others.

The case was launched on January 3, almost two years to the day since Milly took her life.

The inquest into her death heard that the Dublin schoolgirl had been unhappy with her appearance and posted about her intention to die on Instagram.


In a statement confirming the proceedings, Ms Tuomey's solicitor Michael Finucane said the family is not focused on seeking damages.

"My clients are not focused on monetary damages but rather in exposing the flaws in the Irish healthcare system that contributed to their daughter Milly's death," he said.

"The inquest into Milly's death was far too restrictive an exercise to achieve this to any meaningful extent."

Ms Tuomey told the Herald she did not want to discuss the matter during legal proceedings. However, the HSE expressed its sympathies to Ms Tuomey and her family.

"The HSE sympathises greatly with the Tuomey family on the loss of Milly. It is no doubt a very difficult time for the family," a spokesperson told the Herald.

"However, as it seems legal proceedings have been initiated (the HSE would not necessarily be aware of this fact as these matters are handled by the States Claims Agency), it would be inappropriate to comment on any aspect of litigation either in-being or potential."

Ms Tuomey's legal action is likely to focus on the resourcing of mental health services for children and teenagers, which have suffered staff shortages and long waiting lists.

Dublin Coroner's Court heard that on November 3, 2015, Milly posted on Instagram to hundreds of friends that she intended to die on a certain date.

Her parents were alerted by her elder sister and her school.

They took Milly to see their GP and, during this visit, Milly expressed a death wish. She spoke about thoughts of self-harm and said she had been unhappy with her appearance.

The GP recommended she see a clinical psychologist at An Cuan, a private counselling and psychotherapy clinic.

The Tuomeys made an appointment, but the psychologist was no longer taking patients.

Milly was assigned to an art therapist, who was not qualified to make clinical assessments.


After Milly's first visit, the therapist advised Ms Tuomey to make an appointment with the HSE's Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

The court heard that, on January 1, 2016, the Tuomeys ate dinner together and watched a film. That evening, Milly said she was bored and left the room.

She was found moments later in a critical condition and emergency services were called. She was rushed to hospital, where she died on January 4.

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