Baby with unexplained bruising is sent back to ‘harmful’ home FOUR times
- Credit: Mike Brooke
A newborn baby with unexplained bruising was sent back to a “harmful” home four times when social workers showed undue deference to senior doctors, a serious case review revealed today.
The six-week-old, known only as Adam, came to the attention of social services in Tower Hamlets in February 2015.
A GP noted that Adam had suspected ‘non-accidental’ injuries and bruising to his face and he was referred to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel .
At later visits to the hospital, healing fractures to his ribs were discovered along with other facial bruises and a haemorrhage in his left eye, according to the report.
But despite this, it took six to eight weeks before his urgent removal from the family home was ordered by hospital paediatricians.
Report author Briony Ladbury said: “Insufficient attention was paid to the age of Adam when he presented with bruising. The failure to instigate a robust response resulted in his discharge into a harmful situation on four occasions.”
Adam, now four, and his elder brother, whose overexcited behaviour “startled” a visiting social worker, were made the subject of a court order in May 2015.
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He has made a full recovery and both children are now in the care of their grandparents.
Today’s report from Tower Hamlets Council made 20 recommendations, which have all now been implimented the council said. It took four years to be published — eight times longer than it should have.
It says that Adam’s father explained leg bruises may have been caused by Adam being held down in a salt-water bath after being circumcised.
The X-rays, which showed that Adam’s ribs had likely been fractured in the past, took 13 days to be reviewed by paediatricians.
It was only when a newly qualified consultant argued against his colleagues that Adam was recalled and taken into protection.
The report said: “There were sufficient factors to suspect maltreatment.
“He was depicted as a baby ‘who bruised easily’ and his parents were described as ‘concerned [and] cooperative’. There was no police investigation due to a failure to gather evidence during Adam’s care.
Debbie Jones, corporate director of children at Tower Hamlets Council said: “Social workers were too cautious in enforcing their right to look after a child who could have been at risk.
“Thankfully, baby Adam has made a full recovery after being placed with his grandparents. This is no excuse for a pattern of weak practice that placed too much weight on the views of parents and too much emphasis on the need to wait for a precise medical diagnosis before acting.
“We have adapted the recommendations made in the serious case review and taken comprehensive action to change how we work. I can assure local people that looked vulnerable children are safe in Tower Hamlets.”
A spokesman for Barts Health NHS Trust added: “We are deeply sorry that our care for baby Adam was not at the high standard we hold ourselves to. Since 2015 we have strengthened how our teams work together to ensure that we fully investigate injuries, also implementing robust guidelines to manage unexplained bruising in babies and children.”