Berkshire

Berkshire councils criticised over baby death

Two Berkshire councils have been criticised for giving an "inadequate response" to a family whose baby died.

The serious case review, by the Reading Local Safeguarding Children Board, began after the death of the four-month-old, known as Child A in 2009.

Social services in Wokingham and Reading had been aware of the boy who died as a result of cot death.

Neither council has been blamed over the death but both said improvements had been made since the tragedy.

'Appalling tragedy'

The report revealed that the youngster, who was born prematurely to a "very young" mother, was found dead in his cot by his father two months after the family moved from Reading to Wokingham.

According to the report the service the family received from Reading Children's Social Care was of an "unacceptably low standard".

In both local authorities complex referral procedures and "professional confusion" led to an "inadequate response to this family".

The serious case review, by the Reading Local Safeguarding Children Board, recommended that both councils should improve the way cases were transferred to other authorities and that Reading needed to review its referral processes so vulnerable families received "timely" support.

Andy Couldrick, Wokingham's children's services manager, offered his condolences to the child's family.

He said: "It is clear from the report how essential it is that information is shared between organisations in order that everyone understands where children are likely to be at risk.

"We have come a long way since the death of Child A some 14 months ago but there is still more to be done but we are moving in the right direction."

A Reading Borough Council spokesman said: "Any child's death is an appalling tragedy for the parents and our deepest sympathies are with them and their wider families.

"While attaching no responsibility for the death to Reading Borough Council, the serious case review found that there were a number of failings in the support this family received from us at the time.

"Reading Borough Council and its partners had already taken action on all the recommendations made in the serious case review to remedy these."

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