You also get them, it seems, when you lift a curtain on social services failings in one borough, and they affect all others:
A newborn baby was left in the care of his homeless, alcoholic mother, following a catalogue of failings by health and social services.Because when a newborn dies in the care of an alcoholic homeless woman, you just know someone’s screwed up somewhere!
A serious case review into the death of the child, known only as Baby Robert, revealed the blunders by agencies involved in his care.
Baby Robert was just 34 days old when he died in Southend in 2009.How terribly unexpected…
His lifeless body was found in bed with his mother, who had “consumed a large amount of alcohol the night before his death”.
But this time, the excuses are actually rather novel:
The review by the Local Children Safeguarding Board, headed by Southend Council, was carried out in 2010, but only came to the Echo’s attention after someone alerted the paper. At the time of Baby Robert’s death, Southend Council was said to have been swamped with additional work due to the publicity surrounding the death of Baby P in Haringey, North London.Yes, it was ‘OMG! Check all our ducks are in a row!’ time as every social services department in the country scrambled to see if they had a potential Baby P lurking in their files.
And Southend did, but still seemingly missed it despite this additional pressure:
The review into the Southend case concluded the mother was known to social services, having been in and out of care herself. She had a history of alcohol abuse, self-harm, multiple pregnancies, terminations and criminal convictions.And, just as in other cases, even when members of the public finally did the job these ‘expert professionals’ were paid to do, it was still too late:
While pregnant, she was deemed to have made herself intentionally homeless, so little was done to help the woman and her unborn child, beyond arranging short-term stays in hostels. This made it more difficult for health visitors to keep track of her.
The review found the mother suffered mental illness, as well as domestic and substance abuse. Even though these factors should have triggered a referral to social services, none was made.
The report said a witness, known to police, was said to have contacted social services three days before Baby Robert’s death, raising concerns.Yeah, yeah. Heard it all before. Are we ‘Learning lesso…’
The review concluded local health services had become too “desensitised” after dealing with high numbers of homeless patients affected by domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse and mental health problems.
The summary said: “The high level of need made it even more difficult to identify the most vulnerable of these individuals, resulting in the mother’s unborn child’s needs being minimised.”
It said social services had focused too much on the homelessness of the mother, and added “other services had failed to recognise the safeguarding needs of Baby Robert”.
Oh. Of course we are:
Southend Council has said improvements have been made since the tragedy. Bosses said there were many more referrals after the death of Baby P and many careworkers left the profession because of the case.And when they fail too, will you come up with a new excuse?
However, corporate director for children and learning, Sue Cook, said new measures have now been put in place to cope with increased demand.
“We introduced new arrangements in the summer of 2010 to better cope with large fluctuations in demand.I can’t figure out why.
“We have a very stable and committed workforce with a staff turnover rate of 3.6 per cent, which is extremely low for social work. We are very proud of our social workers.”