Bristol social workers criticised over child death

Children’s health and social care professionals in Bristol have been criticised for information sharing and assessment failings in the case of a 10-year-old girl who died last year following years of neglect.

A serious case review into the care received by “Child A”, who died from a heart attack last April after falling into a bath of scalding hot weather, said professionals failed to grasp the level of neglect endured by her and her seven siblings.

Though the children were placed on the child protection register from May 2003 to January 2004, they received no other systematic assessment of their needs, while professionals treated significant risk indicators in isolation, failing to build up a picture of the family situation.

Indicators of risk included domestic violence allegations, numerous “accidental” injuries to the children and the number of anonymous referrals to social services expressing concern.

The review, chaired by NSPCC children’s services manager Elizabeth Morris, said that when agencies’ chronologies on the familiy were combined “there was documented evidence of chronic neglect of all of the children over a number of years” but information was not always shared.

It criticised record-keeping by health professionals, and their failure to follow-up on missed appointments, while children’s social services did not use assessments by other agencies to inform their planning. It also said professionals only sought the children’s views on a few occasions.

The review called on NHS hospital trusts in Bristol to develop a policy on missed appointments, which considered child protection issues, and said children’s social services should ensure children are interviewed during assessments.

More information
Bristol Safeguarding Children Board
Tackling child neglect: Patrick Ayre on the graded child profile’s benefits
Tackling child neglect: David Howe explains the importance of understanding child development
Essential information on child protection

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Mithran Samuel

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