Milburn urges rethink over discipline against senior staff in Climbie case

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Alan Milburn

In his response to Lord Laming’s report, health secretary
Alan Milburn reignited the debate over whether senior managers in
charge in Haringey at the time of Victoria’s death should be
investigated and disciplined, writes Sally
Gillen.

As one of a number of immediate steps he outlined, Milburn urged
“each employer” to determine if further action should be taken
against those involved, including senior managers.

Despite the lack of firm commitments, he did back Laming’s
criticism of “the breathtaking unwillingness of some of the most
senior people in these agencies to accept that they were in any way
accountable for these failures”.

Reeling off a list of the 13 agencies who failed to protect
Victoria during her 11-months in England, Milburn said “this was
not a failing on the part of any one service it was a failing on
the part of every service”.

Milburn added that, in conjunction with the home secretary David
Blunkett, he will ask inspectorates for all agencies involved in
child protection to jointly monitor services in that area of north
London to ensure they are improving.

He will also write to chief executives in all local authorities
and health services to emphasise their duties to vulnerable
children and encourage them to set budgets accordingly.

In an attempt to address confusion among professionals
highlighted in the report, Milburn pledged to replace within the
next three months all existing local guidance with new “shorter,
clearer guidance which will reach every one of the one million
professional staff dealing with the safeguarding of children”.

However, he refused to confirm whether the government would
establish a national agency for children and families or implement
any of the other changes proposed in the report.

He said that the government would give “a substantive response”
to the report as part of the green paper on children at risk, which
is due to be published in the spring.

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