Lessons for agencies from child’s death

    Social services, police, and hospital chiefs admitted mistakes this
    week in their failure to prevent a mother killing her seriously ill
    son.

    Patricia Stocker was jailed for five years at the Old Bailey last
    week for putting up to 10 teaspoons of salt into special milk feed
    designed to strengthen her nine-year-old son, David, who was
    suffering from a mystery illness. The boy was first admitted to
    hospital in February 2001, with stomach pains.

    “We will openly acknowledge we made a serious mistake in that we
    did not complete an assessment of David when we required to do so,”
    said Havering social services executive director Marilyn
    Richards.

    Dr Jane Collins, chief executive of Great Ormond Street hospital,
    where the boy died, said: “There were a lot of what appeared to be
    minor incidents which, looked at individually, did not seem to
    indicate a parent is harming her child.” She added that one of the
    lessons learned from the case was the importance of
    surveillance.

    Peter Spindler, head of the Metropolitan Police’s child
    investigations unit, said police should have investigated earlier
    but were not called in until the salt poisoning had begun.

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