Dying baby’s parents denied time with son by York council failings

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Science Photo Library

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The parents were told they had to be supervised at all times when visiting their dying son

A dying baby’s parents were given limited time to spend with him in his last few weeks of life due to failings by social workers.

Strict supervision orders were placed on the couple by York City Council amid a safeguarding investigation.

It meant the couple, who were eventually cleared of any wrongdoing, were only able to spend time with their son when other people were present.

The council apologised and has paid the family £2,000 for the distress caused.

When the baby, who had a range of health conditions, was taken to hospital with breathing difficulties, a doctor noted injuries to his ribs.

The family said these could have been caused by invasive, physical and medical interventions during a previous hospital stay.

‘Horrifically stressful’

But because of the injuries, social workers began a safeguarding investigation and interim care orders were issued for their two other children to be looked after by grandparents.

When visiting their son in hospital, the parents had to be supervised at all times, either by other relatives or nursing staff, who were not always available to do so.

It meant that on one day they could not see their son at all and on others, they only had a few hours with him.

An investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman Michael King found that even when their son’s condition deteriorated, social workers did not relax instructions despite the council stating that the risk of any harm to the baby was low.

At no point did a social worker go to the hospital to see the situation for themselves, the report said.

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LGO

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Ombudsman Michael King criticised the council for taking nearly a year to respond to the family’s complaint about the situation

Mr King said although the council could not be criticised for starting action, the care plan did not consider their baby’s emotional needs and more should have been done to review the situation.

He said: “This would have been a horrifically stressful time for the family, at a time when their world must have felt like it was falling apart.”

At the final court hearing 11 weeks after their son had died, the council withdrew the care order in respect of their other children and said although the baby’s injuries were unexplained, they could not be attributed to the parents.

The council said it “apologised unreservedly to the family” and fully accepted recommendations made by the ombudsman.

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