Cumbria

Cumbrian baby blinded in one eye after care failings

Silhouette of a parent pushing a pram Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Care staff inadequately assessed the risk to the youngster, the review said

A six-month-old baby was left blind in one eye after opportunities to protect him were missed by care chiefs.

Although the Cumbrian boy's family was known to child protection agencies, key details were not shared between them, a serious case review concluded.

A more in-depth risk assessment should have been carried out, it said.

Cumbria Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB), which commissioned the review, said it was working to implement a number of recommendations.

The youngster, referred to as child BE in the report, was taken to hospital in March 2016 with the eye injury.

His parents reported it had been self-inflicted, however the child's father was later jailed for four years for grievous bodily harm in relation to the injury.

'Key information' missed

The youngster had first been referred to social care workers before his birth and his half-sister was on a care plan as a result of domestic violence within the family.

A further child was alleged to have been injured by BE's father at the age of five weeks.

The review found "key information" was not shared between care agencies resulting in the risk to child BE not being understood, and information relating to the family's "long and complex" history - including children from other relationships - was not gathered properly.

Care professionals concentrated their focus on the parents and BE's siblings rather than the baby, the report said, and the risks posed by the father's mental health problems, drug use and anger management were not appreciated.

Recommendations included care staff taking into account parents' previous relationships and the family tree - as had also been advised by a serious case review into the 2012 death of Barrow toddler Poppi Worthington.

The review into child BE's care was undertaken in March 2017 but has just been published following the conclusion of legal proceedings.

The youngster is now being looked after by a guardian.

Gill Rigg, independent chair of Cumbria LSCB, said "a considerable amount has changed to improve practice" in that time.

She added work to implement the recommendations and monitor their impact "will become part of the long-term work of the LSCB".

A serious case review is commissioned when abuse of a child is suspected or known, the youngster has been seriously harmed or died, and where there is concern over the way care agencies worked to safeguard them.

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