I`m angry. Really angry. Figures out recently showed the annual number of new applications to take children into care has passed the 10,000 mark for the first time, when councils in England launched 886 legal proceedings to remove at-risk youngsters from their families in March. This `proves` that councils and social workers are doing their utmost to protect children. Really? Here`s one such case….
A consultation last year about a mild bout of depression with a locum GP at Chartfield Surgery where former Wandsworth councillor Lucy Allan had been registered for 16 years was meant to be routine. She was seen by a newly qualified locum, Katherine Mawer, who told her that she was going to refer her son to social services to see if he needed support. Miss Allen offered to bring her son to see her regular GP but this was refused. She also refused Miss Allan`s request to see another doctor. Miss Allan left telephone messages for two days requesting to speak to another doctor.
The locums subsequent actions were later described by one of her colleagues as a mixture of `good intentions and panic`.
Did the new GP confer with one of the other GP`s in the practice for advice? erm…no.
Unknown to Miss Allan, the locum telephoned Dr Peter Green who was Head of Safeguarding Children in Wandsworth. Dr. Green told her that `if she had concerns she should make them extremely robust in order to justify breaching patient confidentiality.`
….Extremely robust`? or to put it another way…exaggerate and lie…but I digress…
Miss Allan says, ‘The well meaning, cautious, young locum set about following Dr Green’s advice. Over a period of two days, she wrote up increasingly more extreme accounts of our 10 minute consultation. Where I had said my son would know how I would feel because we were close she wrote: “she tells her son frequently she wants to die.” I had said, when asked, that I could never take my life because I could not leave my son behind, she wrote: “if she were to kill herself she would take her son with her.” She did not check her account with me at or tell me of her concerns – she later claimed (on the advice of Dr Green and the Medical Defence Union) that to tell me of the allegations would have put our son’s life at risk.
Catch 22 anyone?
Dr Mawer’s report account was sent to Wandsworth Council and Wandsworth NHS (where Miss Allan was a Non Executive Director). Later the allegations were sent to her son’s school. Miss Allan and her husband were not told what the allegations were, they had no opportunity to challenge them. She was given a full psychiatric assessment by an NHS consultant who said she was mildly depressed and no risk to anyone including her son.
Nevertheless, the police were informed by which point Miss Allan and her husband realised something was seriously wrong. They say that Wandsworth Council refused to accept the evidence of Dr Lebus at Chartfield Surgery who is the Senior Partner responsible for child safeguarding and who had said her son was not at risk. She also says that her son’s school had confirmed he was happy and thriving.
Miss Allan said, ‘Wandsworth would not be deterred; they were on a grim mission to prove emotional abuse of our son – the cause we found out later was my alleged severe mental illness (despite going about my life and work as I always had) and my husband’s alleged inability to protect our son from risk of harm. No one at all met my husband, social workers didn’t interview him – had they done so they would have found a loving reliable hands on dad involved in every aspect of his son’s life.
‘Wandsworth Council even relied on an anonymous consultation with an ‘expert’ I had never met. The evidence that demonstrated our son’s safety and well being was relegated to irrelevant – it was almost as if social workers believed there was a conspiracy of silence by everyone who had met us or knew us.’
Indeed. Consider one Dr. George Hibbert, accused in Parliament of being little more than a ‘hired gun’ for local authorities trying to take children into care, and now facing a GMC inquiry following accusations that he deliberately misdiagnosed parents as having mental disorders to allow social services to take their children into care….but I digress again…
The investigation that ensued was protracted and traumatic for the family and ironically led to a severe depressive disorder for Miss Allan which she had to seek private treatment for due to fears that asking for medical help through the NHS may have been used in evidence against her.
She says, ‘We did not lose our son, but others in similar circumstances do because they do not have access to solicitors, private health and cannot speak out for themselves. There is an assumption of guilt. No one wants to help or support an accused “child abuser.” Being wrongly accused of abusing your child publicly is an horrific accusation for any parent. Social Services seemed entirely unaware of the harmful impact of their actions on families. There is no redress. No apology was received despite an external complaints procedure recommending we should receive one.’
She believes that the system is being overwhelmed by well-meaning social workers convinced of every parents’ guilt but missing out on real cases of child abuse like Baby P and Victoria Climbie.
…Indeed. `Lessons have been learnt`….and in this (and in hundreds of other similar cases), the lesson is `Cover your Arse`
A spokesman for Wandsworth Council said: “If a GP refers child protection concerns to us, we have a duty to investigate and would be rightly criticised if we did not. We completed our investigation in this case and concluded no intervention was required. We refute these claims but in the interests of this family’s privacy, we will be making no further comment.
Well…thats good of them. Or to put it another way….`We didn`t do our job properly, but we`re admitting nothing`
Now, I admit that many, many children need to be taken into care, and likewise, there are countless people who should never, ever be allowed to have children, but surely that means social workers should be doing their damn jobs properly, or am I missing something?