A newborn baby with unexplained bruising was discharged into a “harmful situation” at home four times as social workers showed undue deference to senior doctors, a report revealed today.
The child, known only as Baby Adam, was six weeks old when he came to the attention of a GP and social services in Tower Hamlets in February 2015.
But despite injuries considered non-accidental, it took six to eight weeks before paediatricians at Whitechapel’s Royal London hospital ordered his urgent removal from the family home.
Today’s report from Tower Hamlets council made 20 recommendations. It took four years to be published — eight times longer than it should have.
Report author Briony Ladbury said: “Insufficient attention was paid to the age of Adam when he presented with bruising. The failure to instigate a robust response resulted in his discharge into a harmful situation on four occasions.”
Adam, now four, and his elder brother, whose overexcited behaviour “startled” a visiting social worker, were made the subject of a court order in May 2015 and transferred to the care of their grandparents.
Adam, who has fully recovered, was first referred to the hospital after a GP became concerned about facial bruising.
At later visits a left-eye haemorrhage was found. His father explained leg bruises may have been caused by Adam being held down in a salt-water bath after being circumcised.
Doctors checked for cancer and blood disorders. When X-rays, which showed healing rib fractures, were eventually ordered, it took 13 days for them to be reviewed by paediatricians.
It was only when a newly qualified consultant argued against his colleagues that Adam was recalled and taken into protection.
The report said: “There were sufficient factors to suspect maltreatment. He was depicted as a baby ‘who bruised easily’ and his parents were described as ‘concerned [and] cooperative’.
There was no police investigation due to a failure to gather evidence during Adam’s care.
Debbie Jones, Tower Hamlets’ corporate director of children, said: “[There was] weak practice that placed too much weight on the views of parents and the need to wait for a diagnosis. We have taken action to change how we work.”