Manchester social services criticised over baby's care

Chantelle Raschid
Image caption Raschid was convicted of minor assault and neglect charges

Social services in Manchester have been criticised in an independent review into the care given to a baby boy who was left brain damaged and blinded.

The three-month-old, known as Child A, suffered injuries experts said were usually only seen in car crash victims.

Chantelle Raschid, 21, of Beswick, and her partner Nicholas Muhanza, 23, were cleared of inflicting his injuries.

A review found social workers did not properly consider injuries previously suffered by the boy's older sibling.

It said the quality of the care given to the boy had been poor.

Child A was three months old when he was taken to Manchester Royal Infirmary in July 2007.

Doctors discovered he had fractures to his skull, both collarbones, five ribs and the upper and lower bones of his arms and legs.

Unexplained injuries

The boy, now aged three, spent a week on a life support machine and will need constant care for the rest of his life due to his permanent brain damage and blindness.

The serious case review revealed how the boy had been taken to hospital just a few weeks before he sustained the critical injuries and was limp and appeared not to be breathing.

The boy's older sibling had also been taken to hospital twice with unexplained injuries.

The report found that the key failing of social services was that the injuries to the older sibling were not assessed properly therefore not giving an early warning about what might happen to child A - his younger brother.

On the second occasion, the doctor believed the bruises on the older sibling had been inflicted by someone else.

Ian Rush, chair of the safeguarding board which carried out the review, said more could have been done to keep Child A safe.

He said: "This report highlights a number of serious shortcomings in the care provided to the older sibling that may have affected the support available to the younger child, child A.

"It is clear from this Serious Case Review that agencies did not properly assess the risks to the older sibling or follow multi-agency safeguarding procedures.

Not guilty verdict

"Overall the assessment of potential risk and the poor care these children were receiving should have been looked into more thoroughly," he said.

"It's hugely disappointing and terrible that an innocent child has been left with these sorts of lifelong injuries and to that degree, when a review like this comes up with findings like this, it's a disappointment to all of us and the whole safeguarding system is culpable for it."

Raschid and Mr Muhanza went on trial last year.

Raschid pleaded guilty to assault for picking up the child by his arm and a single count of neglect.

She was given an eight-month jail sentence, suspended for two years.

The court heard it could not be proved who was caring for Child A at the time he suffered his injuries.

A formal not guilty verdict was entered on a more serious charge that Raschid harmed the child.

Mr Muhanza was cleared of neglect.

Manchester City Council has apologised for the mistakes but said improvements had since been made.

It said disciplinary action would have been taken against the social worker involved but that person had already left before the injuries came to light.

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