Our sincerest thoughts are with the family and friends of the baby who it was confirmed died near the end of last year. Because of the obvious sensitivity of this incident, we’ve taken the unusual decision to not open the article for comments
At Thursday evening’s Overview and Scrutiny Panel meeting, council leader, David Pugh, drew attention to the statement made by Cllr Welsford that despite claims by Cllr Abraham that there had been no child deaths on the Island in light of the damning Ofsted report on child safeguarding, there had tragically been a child death near the end of last year.
Cllr Pugh addressed members of the Panel stating that, “the council has looked into the matter and confirmed that Cllr Welsford’s statement in that matter was entirely erroneous and false and it is a matter of some concern that he made such a false accusation.”
Pugh: “No child death on that date”
He claimed there was “There was no child death on that date or indeed surrounding that date at all. If it was true, which it isn’t, identifying such a specific date could have led to a child being identified through death records and could’ve meant that you could have grieving parents who could’ve read a report which would’ve suggested that the death of their child was somehow linked to child protection issues.”
He went on to say, “That will certainly be looked into, how Cllr Welsford approached that issue, but for the benefit of those members who read the press reports and indeed who were there the other night, I think it’s important that we put the facts on the table.”
Bacon: Seeking clarification
Later in the meeting, Cllr Jonathan Bacon asked for some clarification in relation to what Cllr Pugh had told members.
He asked for confirmation that no Serious Care Review (SCR) had taken place, or was due to take place, in relation to the child death claim made by Cllr Welsford.
Cllr Pugh replied by reading out a statement that he said had been issued to the media on Thursday.
(OnTheWight requested that statement and chased it up today (Friday), but at time of publishing, the press office had still failed to respond. Luckily we had permission from the chair of the meeting to audio record it, so are able to transcribe below for you.)
Cllr Pugh said, “In response to a subsequent enquiry, we can confirm that as previously reported, on a date in November 2012, a ten week old baby was pronounced dead having been taken to St Mary’s hospital. The death is not being treated as suspicious by police, no arrests have been made.
“Police are preparing a file for the coroner who opened an inquest in December 2012, and that was reported in the County Press. The inquest was adjourned. Our sympathy and condolences are with the family at the time of this loss. Any child death is a tragedy and it is important that grieving parents, sibling and families are treated with sensitivity and respect and for that reason we don’t comment on any individual cases.
“There are statutory guidelines that determine the processes for both child death review and Serious Case Reviews which will include notifications to Government offices as required.”
Pugh: “Processes have been complied with”
He went on to say, “We are confident that these processes have been complied with in respect of any child deaths. The purpose of such review is to learn lessons in order to improve the health, safety and wellbeing of children. The processes are not about culpability and blame. The important point to emphasise there is the inference of what Cllr Welsford sought to make the other night, is that the death is not being treated as suspicious by police and no arrests have been made.
“The death is clearly a tragedy and what we wouldn’t want to do is falsely raise sensitivities and anxieties by the type of comments that were being made the other night.”
Beynon: There is a Serious Case Review underway
Cllr Bacon sought further clarification that no Serious Case Review had taken place or would be taken place.
Cllr Pugh replied, “I have confirmed that the police are preparing a file for HM Coroner, I think Mr Beynon confirmed the other night the procedure that takes place when there is such a death but which at this stage that does not entail that.”
At this point, outgoing Chief Executive, Steve Beynon, interrupted saying, “There is a Serious Case Review underway for this particular case. A decision whether to hold a a Serious Case Review lies with the independent chair of the Safeguarding Board and as such, as there is a a Serious Case Review I cannot comment further.”
He added that a Serious Case Review does not imply blame on any agency, its purpose is to understand what happened. If there is a death, nearly always there is a Serious Case Review if it is an unexplained situation or a serious injury.
Once again, our sincerest thoughts go out to the family and friends of the baby who tragically died last year.