Judge slams council ‘mistakes’ over baby girl with head injuries
A HIGH Court judge has slammed Cheshire East Council after ‘serious mistakes’ were made in handling the case of an 11-monthold girl who suffered serious head injuries.
The council was tasked with arranging the future long-term care of the child, who cannot be identified, after a court ruled in December that ‘on the balance of probabilities’, her mother had caused the two separate head injuries.
But Mr Justice MacDonald, sitting at a private family court hearing in Liverpool to decide where the child should live, said assessments by Cheshire East social workers of family members who applied to look after her were ‘inadequate and fundamentally flawed’.
He said the work of the social workers was ‘lackadaisical’ and ‘the highly regrettable failures on the part of Cheshire East Borough Council’ meant the case had to be adjourned so a final decision on the girl’s future had to be delayed.
Mr Justice MacDonald said: “The serious mistakes made by East Cheshire Borough Council in this case are of very real concern and must not be repeated.”
He added: “I hope that those responsible at the local authority for the unfortunate omissions I have had to deal with in this judgment will reflect on the consequences for [the girl] and her family of their failure to comply with their professional obligations and their obligations to this court, and on the need for them to do better in the future for a child whose welfare they are charged with safeguarding and promoting.”
Cheshire East has apologised ‘unreservedly’ for its failings.
Speaking after the hearing, Kath O’Dwyer, executive director of children’s services at Cheshire East Council, said: “Cheshire East Council apologises unreservedly for the failings highlighted in the court judgement.
“It is clear that, on this occasion, the assessments carried out did not meet the high professional standards that we expect and demand of those working in children’s social care services.
“Lessons will be learned and staff training and procedures will be reviewed and reinforced to ensure such failings are not repeated.
“Cheshire East places paramount importance on the wellbeing and protection of its vulnerable residents, both young and old, and we will take appropriate action to ensure we deliver good quality practice that places children’s welfare as the key priority.”