Cumbria baby abuse: Child failed by agencies

Opportunities were missed to protect a baby who was physically abused by his mother's partner in Cumbria.

The boy was admitted to hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries in 2009 when he was a few weeks old.

A serious case review by Cumbria Local Safeguarding Children's Board found the baby was injured despite the family's contact with a range of services.

It said that while no individual or service should have prevented the injuries, improvements were needed.

The boy's mother, who had met her partner through a social networking website, was described as "vulnerable".

The partner was found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm and child cruelty and sentenced to two years in prison.

The mother pleaded guilty to child neglect and is awaiting sentence.

'Significant risks'

The report found there was a good standard of support to her during her pregnancy.

Other areas of good practice were agencies' response to protect the boy once he had been admitted to hospital.

But it found there were some failings by agencies to identify if she was a potential victim of domestic abuse, which may have resulted in earlier intervention.

The review said the number of consultations with health professionals for the baby was unusual and should have led to questions.

In its conclusion, the panel said: "It is realistic to expect that professionals should have responded differently to the emerging information and recognise the welfare needs and potential risks to child C.

"Hindsight has shown that the risks to child C turned out to be significant as he was subjected to serious physical abuse."

No full picture

It said it was concerned that some of the issues arising in the case had featured previously in Cumbria and in nationally published serious case review findings.

The review said the boy had progressed well since being injured.

NHS Cumbria medical director Neela Shabde said problems had resulted because of people working in isolation and so there was not a full picture.

She said the finding had been accepted and recommendations were being implemented.

"When children are coming to the attention of healthcare professionals, I think they will be alert to unusual presentations through their training, supervision and support," she said.

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