Kingston Hospital should have a children’s social worker says report

The possibility that children at risk of serious harm visiting Kingston Hospital are not being notified to social services properly should be investigated by Kingston Council, a report has said.

The suggestion is one of the key recommendations of a confidential second serious case review into mistakes by the hospital, social workers and police in the run-up to the brain damage of a newly born baby.

An earlier version of the report was rejected by Ofsted earlier this year as its independence was compromised.

Councillor Patricia Bamford said: “It is to see how they have been picked up and what action has resulted. We need to make sure people are all working together.”

A mother who made domestic violence allegations in March 2007 was allowed to leave Kingston Hospital despite police warnings, because social workers were “confused” about who should step in.

The allegations should have triggered a child protection investigation. The baby was later taken into life-long care.

The eight page executive summary recommended that the Local Safeguarding Children Board commission an analysis of the need for a Hospital Children’s Social Work service which might provide a direct link to the children’s social services department by the end of September.

The report says: “The analysis should investigate the numbers and types of referrals to children’s social services from hospital sources, their progress or otherwise, and whether such a service would add significant local benefit.”

A spokesman for Kingston Hospital welcomed the report and said a hospital social worker would be a valuable addition to the team.

The report also recommends training for police, social services and hospital and other NHS staff on working with uncooperative mothers. The hospital has also been told to employ a specific midwife with responsibility for mental health issues.

In the future any other concerns (such as refusing to follow medical advice) which might endanger the health of the mother and unborn baby should at the very least provoke a meeting.

The first report into Baby A was chaired by consultant Marika Dalgliesh, a trustee of Kingston Citizens Advice Bureau, a major recipient of council funding. The reason for the compromised independence of the report has not been publicly explained.

But one of the other recommendations is that Ofsted clarify the need for independence between the chairs of panels and the authors of reports, in this case outgoing director of learning and children’s services Patrick Leeson and Ms Dalgleish.

Kingston Council will appoint an independent chairman of the Local Safeguarding Children Board when Mr Leeson leaves Kingston to work at Ofsted.

Ofsted have not yet said whether they have accepted the report.

To read the report yourself here