Health professionals must take more responsibility for child
protection issues, a report into Lauren Wright’s death has
concluded, writes Sally Gillen.
The report, which was commissioned by Norfolk Health Authority,
finds a series of errors and best practice led to a “failure to
Poor communication, an over-reliance on other professionals and
failure to pursue diagnosis are among its criticisms.
The report also warns that doctors are capable of professional
arrogance and “a misplaced belief in their own skills”.
“It should not be assumed that a paediatrician is always right
and there is no need to consult with others,” says the report.
Protocols should be set up to provide access to second opinions,
royal colleges should address the problem of professional arrogance
through training, and social workers should be helped to challenge
doctors through training with health professionals.
Weeks before she was killed by her stepmother Tracy Wright,
Lauren was examined by a paediatrician, Dr Jonathan Dossettor, of
Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King’s Lynn.
Acting on a referral from a GP, he diagnosed bruises on the
six-year-old’s body as non-accidental but, although he was
not completely satisfied by Wright’s explanation that they
had been caused by school bullies, he did not pursue the matter by
obtaining forensic evidence, as expected.
He also failed to check with the social worker involved in
Lauren’s case that she was seeking an explanation for the
injuries rather than expect he would be contacted.
With up-to-date child protection training, he may have reached a
different conclusion about the cause of bruising to Lauren, says
Training, highlighted as a key issue in the 45-page report,
should not be “an optional extra”, but essential for all health
professionals engaged in services for children, and some of it
should be on a multi-agency basis.
John Alston, chairperson of the Norfolk Health Authority,
apologised for the “shortcomings in the diagnosis and treatment of
Lauren Wright which contributed to her untimely death”.
Accepting “without reservation” the findings of the report, he
said: “It is clear that doctors need to take more ownership of
child protection cases, and that will require a rethink by the
royal colleges and leading professionals.”
Lauren’s stepmother Tracey Wright was given a 15-year sentence
for manslaughter and wilful neglect last November. Her father Craig
Wright received a three-year sentence for the same charges.
Report available from 01603 307293.