Report into Lauren Wright’s death puts spotlight on role of health staff

Health professionals must take more
responsibility for child protection issues and not rely so much on
social workers, a report into Lauren Wright’s death has

Commissioned by Norfolk Health Authority, the
report into the six-year-old’s death has found that a series of
errors and lack of best practice led to a “failure to safeguard

Poor communication, an over-reliance on other
professionals and failure to pursue diagnosis are among its

The report also warns that doctors must guard
against professional arrogance and “a misplaced belief in their own

“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

Weeks before Lauren was killed by her
stepmother Tracy Wright, she was examined by a paediatrician,
Jonathan Dossettor, of Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King’s

Acting on a referral from a GP, he diagnosed
bruises on the child’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.

He also failed to check with the social worker
involved in Lauren’s case that she was seeking an explanation for
the injuries. Instead he waited to be contacted.

With up-to-date child protection training, he
may have reached a different conclusion about the cause of bruising
to Lauren, says the report.

Such 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 with
at least part of it taking place on a multi-agency basis.

Chairman of the Norfolk Health Authority John
Alston apologised for the “shortcomings in the diagnosis and
treatment of Lauren Wright which contributed to her untimely

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.”

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