To think Health Visitor home visits should be compulsory by law? Distressing content.

(187 Posts)
PeaceBeWithYou Thu 03-Oct-13 19:47:17

If you miss one, cancel one, are not in etc, another one should be scheduled within 3 month period and if it is again missed without adequate explanation, then police should be granted access with a HV to check on the children's welfare. Health and well being home visits should be scheduled up to the age of 10 perhaps?

Rather extreme but could this have prevented Hamzah Khan's terrible life and needless, horrifying death?

Agencies were involved with the mother but she was 'obstructive' apparently. That poor boy must have been starved from birth to be so stunted in his growth. No medical reasons have been given and also no medical professionals were aware of it so it seems. No mention that Hamzah was ever seen by a HV. The mother did not seek medical attention either sad.

Those other 5 DC in the house were also subjected to living in absolute filth and from some of the houses I've sen it is probably the tip of the iceberg.

We are too bloody worried about upsetting parents and not enough focus is on helpless DC IMO. The gloves should be off. If you have DC which are part of society, then society should take a firmer hand into ensuring their well being as it seems all too apparent that some parents can't be trusted.

One life saved or changed would be well worth it IMO.

redexpat Thu 03-Oct-13 19:51:36

This will not go well. Nearly everyone on MN hates HV and thinks they are as useful as chocolate teapots (the phrase most commonly used).

phantomnamechanger Thu 03-Oct-13 19:51:48

I have been avoiding the case you mention as I find it too awful. I did not know there were 5 other children. How does that work - how could they not have known about the dead child in their house, not said something? How could neighbours & wider social circle not have missed him?

just incomprehensible

I certainly agree OP that children should not be able to disappear and fall off the radar like this one seems to have

Fairylea Thu 03-Oct-13 19:54:23

One of the things that really upset me about this case was that the mother had been to the gp saying she had hit rock bottom and was drinking heavily and yet no one checked on her little boy even after that. Absolutely disgusting.

A truly horrific case. And unfortunately it won't be the last. Again.

eurochick Thu 03-Oct-13 19:54:26

They were, as you say, "known".

No reason to subject everyone to state poking about because the agencies to which this family was known acted in a way that meant this was able to happen.

Captainbarnacles1101 Thu 03-Oct-13 19:54:39

I agree with op. And I certainly disagree that HV are useless. They are bloody over worked and bogged down with paper work. I agree with regular visits if only it was possible.
If a parent is doing their job they won't mind the visits as they will have nothing to hide.

PenguinDancer Thu 03-Oct-13 19:56:04

My job involves HVs.

I did not get in the way of my HV coming but she missed the fact that I had horrendous depression, crippling anxiety and lived in complete filth and squander - as did my DS sad because I knew she was coming. So I gutted every time she came and pretended every thing was happy days. (Thankfully I eventually broke, sought help and now live in cleanliness and happiness for real)

I don't know that she could have picked it up tbh without going to family and starting to breach human rights laws.

Onesleeptillwembley Thu 03-Oct-13 19:56:08

As health visitors are, at best, ineffectual, and at worst, downright dangerous - no. YABU.

PenguinDancer Thu 03-Oct-13 19:57:18

My point being that I don't think HVs can do enough to help this horrendous kind of situation. People can easily hide things. If it wasn't starvation it would have been something else.

Actually why the jeff should we need a law for people to act properly and professionally?

Something is seriously broken if professionals can brush over or ignore the fact that children are in a sorry state (she had a few children, some at school) that a baby hadn't been seen since 2 weeks old, that she was answering doors drunk etc etc

Why on earth weren't dots being joined up.

And if this is blamed on budget cuts - I would like to know why someone who should have been doing their job, didn't because they didn't have enough time knowing that a child could be being neglected?


littlewhitebag Thu 03-Oct-13 20:00:29

I work fairly closely with HV in my job as a sw. They are mostly fantastic but are vastly over stretched. They will make unannounced visits to families we are concerned about and monitor things closely. However if a family won't let you over the doorstep it can be difficult to gain access.

I don't think what OP is suggesting is remotely feasible because of cost and because most families just don't require that level of scrutiny. I do however think that this boy was failed massively by agencies.

DieDeutschLehrerin Thu 03-Oct-13 20:01:42

I think, probably, that if you are known to the authorities, and are obstructive, then it's reasonable to say the police and relevant authorities should be granted access.

However, for the vast majority of parents I'm afraid YABU. It is a tiny and irrational minority who abuse their children in this way and it would be a colossal waste of insufficient resources to check on all parents in this way.

Also once, children reach school age they are seen daily by adults who could report concerns. Stronger intervention after this point maybe worth focusing on here.

MrsPatrickDempsey Thu 03-Oct-13 20:04:06

So, Onesleep, you know every HV do you? Don't believe you have met me...........

pining Thu 03-Oct-13 20:04:13

I am shocked at the lack of post natal care and home visits. I have a 9 year age gap between my dc and I'm sure that 9 yrs ago, we had much more support and checks done. I haven't seen a hv since a home visit when my ds was around 6 weeks......he is now over a year. As far as they know anything could be happening. I guess it's all the cutbacks but so sickening and very very sad to think of all those poor children. Something needs to be done.

Tiredemma Thu 03-Oct-13 20:07:14

Ive just had a DD after last having a baby 10 years ago. The 'lack' of contact has astounded me to be honest. Im actually still waiting to be 'signed off' by my midwife. DD is 4 weeks old.

PenguinDancer Thu 03-Oct-13 20:08:40

pining, to my knowledge automatic pre-school checks are post natal, 6-8 weeks, 2 years and now 27-30 months.

Any others are either unscheduled or by recall. We are lucky, our HVs go round for a 16 week, a 13 month and various others as well.

friday16 Thu 03-Oct-13 20:09:04

If we're swapping serious case reviews, an arguably even more distressing case is today's SCR into the death of Keanu Williams, full report here.

In this case, there wasn't the slightest problem with access. Not only was the mother known to social services, she was a care leaver herself, and she at no point attempted to avoid contact. But she knew the language and expected behaviours that social workers were looking for, and the process was subverted so that she became the focus of attention as an adult with needs, rather than her child (which is, pretty much, what happened in the Peter Connolly case).

I'm sceptical as to whether social workers should be so easy to deceive, and the SCR makes reference to the need for respectful disbelief. But it is undeniably the case that even social workers who have been brought into a case because of suspicions of abuse or neglect are too easy to deceive. Health Visitors whose work is mostly about the 99.999 recurring percent of mothers who are not abusers will not be going into houses with that disbelief, and would therefore be even less likely to pick it up.

bundaberg Thu 03-Oct-13 20:11:11

no, i don't.
i've met some truly lovely health visitors in my time, I think they do a great job. But if I don't want to see one I reserve my right not to have to!

LittleMissWise Thu 03-Oct-13 20:11:22

My HV was brilliant.

I don't think making HV visits, SW visits, or any kind of visits compulsory are going to stop this sort of thing unfortunately.

The children were 'known'. There has been talk on the News today about how Keanu Williams was let down and could have been saved. The trouble is, people can not keep expecting these agencies to do their jobs properly and effectively when their budgets are being stripped right back, when they are under staffed.

It's Society letting these poor little mites down. It's never any bodies business.sad

AmberLeaf Thu 03-Oct-13 20:11:26

No reason to subject everyone to state poking about because the agencies to which this family was known acted in a way that meant this was able to happen

I think I agree with this.

Ultimately that little boys death was caused by his Mother, but surely someone in a professional capacity should have done something? I haven't followed it 100%, but I read about the father saying he had approached the police/possibly social services and begged them to step in.

I think turning up with the police for every parent who misses a HV appt is OTT and unworkable though.

friday16 Thu 03-Oct-13 20:12:00

Also once, children reach school age they are seen daily by adults who could report concerns.

Hmm. In both the Daniel Pelka and Keanu Williams cases, schools did raise concerns, but were fobbed off. In the Pelka case I think the criticism that they didn't follow it up further is justified, but in the Williams case Social Services explicitly told them that the case had been investigated and there were no further concerns; in that case, the criticism of the school for not escalating the case seems desperately unfair.

By saying that the boy was failed by agencies, it somehow distracts from the fact that someone (or a few people) messed up and missed something.

Shellywelly1973 Thu 03-Oct-13 20:15:31

After my 4th dc I literally begged my hv for help... I got nothing, absolutely nothing.

I live in one of the poorest boroughs in London. We've had 2 very high profile children's deaths in this borough.

Hv are far & few between. My youngest dc is 5. His one & only developmental check was at 10 weeks old. He's had all his vaccinations. I never attended a weighing clinic as there was only one a month and the wait was ridiculous, especially as I have an older dc who's autistic, who wasn't in any educational setting at the time due th his sn.

So yes the system should work better. The existing system is failing due to lack of money and staff. Where will the funds come from to improve these services or even totally reorganise them??

SaucyJack Thu 03-Oct-13 20:16:02

YABU. These families are always "known" to somebody, somewhere. The problem is that there are simply not enough resources around to do the job properly. Adding to their caseloads 100-fold would not help in any way.

WestieMamma Thu 03-Oct-13 20:18:40

YABVU Terrible situations like this happen because services are already over-stretched and do not have the resources to follow up. How would increasing their responsibilities a thousand fold help?

itsnothingoriginal Thu 03-Oct-13 20:20:32

Early intervention is absolutely key. This HAS been cut by the present government whether certain newspapers choose to accept that cuts are responsible for a rise in these situations or not.

Parenting support services have been ruthlessly chopped by many councils (my DH works in this field). I think these support services were in a much better place to get to the truth of the situation and to 'join the dots' as were non- statutory and there to provide support and advice. Obviously child protection situations would be referred on and dealt with by statutory services.

Social services are at breaking point and this issue is still not being properly addressed by anyone in government.

Snog Thu 03-Oct-13 20:27:24

Bit of a blunt instrument and waste of resources for HVs to compulsorily visit everyone surely?

pining Thu 03-Oct-13 20:28:07

Maybe we do just need to go back to basics. Keep an eye out for neighbours, be helpful, and sometimes be nosey or interfering. I would rather make a phonecall that could be seen as OTT rather than sit back and assume someone else is dealing with it. It's definitely something we all have to take just a little bit of responsibility for surely?

ninjanurse Thu 03-Oct-13 20:29:00

Im a staff nurse in a health visiting team. We do the new birth visit at 10-14 days, a 6 week follow up visit at home, a one year check in clinic and two year check in clinic. If parents don't attend to the one and two year check we then visit them at home. However, if we can get in, all we can do is report to the GP that they are not engaging with the health visiting service. We have no powers to get into peoples homes. We also do transfer in visits to people who have moved into the area, to try and detect these children who are missed because they have been moved about so many times.

Obviously if we detect any other problems, post natal depression, mental health problems, domestic violence etc etc we follow these up and make more visits. It is very very difficult, people do hide things. In our team we all constantly worry whether we may have missed something with a child. Some families we have niggly worries about but no evidence to justify these feelings. We log our concerns, we do speak to any other agencies involved. It is worth mentioning that in the case of Daniel Pelka and Baby P, those mothers did engage with professionals, they attended appointments, and still professionals missed the signs.

I will be interested the Hamzah Khan case review. Paticularly as there were older children who would have at least been in contact with the school daily. I was shocked to see Hamzah had only been see by a health visitor once! and hadn't been registered with a GP til he was about 16 months old!

MurderOfBanshees Thu 03-Oct-13 20:31:36

We sent our HV away as she was actually making things harder for us. So no, I couldn't get behind compulsory HV visits. I don't know what the answer is though.

Jan49 Thu 03-Oct-13 20:42:15

Compulsory HV visits would require more HVs and more work, not less. They seem to have too much to do already.

When my ds was born over 20 years ago, an HV was supposed to visit each new mother daily for the first 21 days where we lived (UK). My HV made excuses from day1 (things like not wanting to disturb ushmm) and signed me off after a few weeks. I felt very let down. I would love to have had the extra reassurance of a professional calling daily that I could ask about things.

difficultpickle Thu 03-Oct-13 20:46:40

I agree with the OP and I speak as someone whose GP banned the HV from seeing ds (he was prem, she couldn't cope with him and after every one of her visits I got a call from our lovely GP telling me the things she had told him - which were seriously rubbish).

marriedinwhiteisbackz Thu 03-Oct-13 20:52:20

GPs and midwives should be identifying families at risk during the booking visits and HV's should be getting in contact with them and focusing on them.

My DS is 18 now (nearly 19). My HV didn't have the courtesy even to make an appointment for the first visit; when she came she couldn't complete the form properly, she couldn't follow instructions and make a referral in accordance with them and she was not sufficiently experienced to help me with breastfeeding. She could tell me that bf mothers put their babies first and bottle mothers put themselves first and that babies needed to breast feed but she was not capable of providing any constructive help - that's what the NCR was for and I went on to develop infective mastitis and a breast abscess and PND. She also did not have the capability to understand that the charts in the red book were not averages but medians.

She was rude, she was unhelpful and she was completely incompetent and YABU because no mother should have her time wasted in that manner.

Remembers too that I went to the filthy clinic upon her command once. It was dirty; the hv there was dirty and didn't care and couldn't operate the scales properly. When DS went on them they read -9oz I think which indicated he had lost 4oz. She wrote that in the book and didn't notice. I then pointed it out and asked for the scales to be reset she got arsy.

Compulsory HV visits - I think not - I'd rather dig out my eyeballs with rusty nails. Rudest most incompetent service I ever came across. I made a formal complaint that was upheld. I never saw a Health Visitor again - no point really if they were incapable. I also instructed my GP, in accordance with my legal rights, that when my subsequent children were born I did not wish to have any contact with the service.

The money spent on a bunch of nurses who don't want to actually nurse, who want to turn up late at 9am in the morning when they can't blame it on clinics, merely their inability to get out of bed and who have no basic courtesy or basic skills should be spent on the vulnerable in a focused and professional manner. Not wasted on the middle classes with planned children to whom they wish to be rude and insubordinate and make snarky comments when they enter their houses without an appointment "you do realise not everyone lives like this". Little bitch. It still hurts now- nearly 19 years later. The little cow made me grieve for those first few celebratory weeks.

I cannot believe how the subject of HVs still makes me angry and I will campaign for their abolition until the day I die.

marriedinwhiteisbackz Thu 03-Oct-13 21:00:37

Ninja Nurse for the initial visit does your profession not think it would be appropriate to telephone the mother and make a mutually convenient appointment rather than sending a letter 24 hours before to say you will arrive at 9am the next day. The letter arrived at 8.55 and I had to see the little madam in my nightie, unwashed with a hungry baby on that first visit. Do you guys really think that's the way to initiate constructive contact.

What would have been wrong with phoning me and making a proper appointment that was mutually convenient. The baby was about 10 days old, we were not at risk. I regard that as utterly disrespectful and totally unacceptable and I hope it isn't going on now.

A few months later the then head of the HV service in the UK was published in the Times I think as saying the role of the HV was to teach ignorant mothers the three C's. Cooking, Cleaning and Communications. That really helps embed co-operative relationships in my opinion and did everything to make me disengage from the service because frankly I am not ignorant I am a cordon bleu cook, my home is spotless and that little baby is in the top 1% intellectually of the UK population.

If the HV's want to generalise and refer to me as ignorant I venture to suggest they will get as good as they deliver and that is why I formally and in accordance with local health service protocols had them banned from contacting me every again.

AngelsLieToKeepControl Thu 03-Oct-13 21:02:08

I'm not sure what the answer is either, but compulsory HV checks are not it.

If I was forced to continue seeing mine after she came to see my 2 day old son and asked 'Oh does he look anything like your dead baby' because my oldest son died 3 years before, or another one who told me I was being selfish and putting my needs before that of my daughters for taking painkillers that meant I could no longer breast feed, although it meant I wasn't passing out from the pain, or another one who felt it appropriate to discuss a health issue I had with one of my children with my Mother in the middle of a supermarket because they vaguely knew each other, then I really don't know what I would have done tbh.

I think giving them the power to force themselves on people would do more harm than good.

ebwy Thu 03-Oct-13 21:03:01

Since we had social services here because the health visitor looked at our info (I have mental health issues, my fiance was "raised" in care) and decided my son's birthmark was a bruise... Triggering my depression and. Making it very hard for my fiance to bond with our son (to him, social workers are never bringing good news...) we've decided the judgemental prejudiced HV is not allowed anywhere near my children. And since her replacement (yes, I did give the HV service a chance) was more interested in her nails than doing her job, neither of them ever gave me qny actual support or advice... We've told their supervisor not to send another one. At this point I have no use for them. I can weigh my own baby, thanks, and that's all they did anyway.

80sMum Thu 03-Oct-13 21:03:55

I think there are simply not enough health visitors to go around nowadays. When my DCs were babies (30 years ago) we used to receive frequent (every 3 months or so) unannounced HV visits for each child's first 2 or3 years. By 'we' I mean everyone. The HV never made an appointment, she just turned up. I used to find it rather intrusive, but it did provide an opportunity to discuss any concerns I may have had about the children's diet, sleeping etc.

YABU. Having heard comments from HVs no my perfectly healthy but small 3yo charge over the past two years, I really disagree that they should have to have access to people unless they are wanted.

Schnullerbacke Thu 03-Oct-13 21:06:23

I think Germany has quite a good system but bearing in mind its a different health set-up to start with. Children from birth to school age are required by law to be seen by a GP / social worker. It is usually in the form of a physical developmental check-up once a year (twice or more a year in early years). The visit then gets logged on a database and if you have not been,they will send a reminder. If you still haven't taken your child for the check-up, then a social worker will visit you at home.

Am sure there are still failings with this system too, heaven knows we have enough of these cases too but at least it a start in the right direction....Those who want to evade the system always seem to manage...

joanofarchitrave Thu 03-Oct-13 21:14:33

'I would like to know why someone who should have been doing their job, didn't because they didn't have enough time knowing that a child could be being neglected?'

Seriously? I work with vulnerable adults. Do you expect me to work all night? I could do; there is plenty of work. What then? Do you expect me to work all the next day? And the day after that? When do I stop? There will always be more people I need to see. At what point would I become actively dangerous to the people I am seeing?

Don't you think that it would be better to stop work and rest? Don't you do better work once you have had a break? The people who work late (OK, they include me) are potentially dangerous because you need to be adequately rested to build relationships, negotiate, observe, get the job done right. My job is nothing like as stressful as a social worker's or a doctor's, but still, if I get it wrong, people suffer, and people die.

These cases are appalling in every way and there will be plenty to learn from every one. Just like there was in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and long before that, before these cases were even investigated.

Trigglesx Thu 03-Oct-13 21:15:37

Our health visitor was of the chocolate teapot variety. I did, however, take the DCs in to the surgery for regular checks anyway, so I hardly think they were concerned when I told them I didn't wish any further contact from the HV.

I don't think mandatory HV appointments are helpful. It's unworkable anyway. Mine wouldn't give a specific time - would only tell me the day and just expected me to be home when she got around to coming by. Not happening, lady. I have a life, thank you. hmm How is that supposed to work if both parents are full time workers that are not home during the day? Are they supposed to take a day off just for a health visit?

Most times in these situations, these children are already on the radar of SS and have slipped through the cracks. This is not something that mandatory HV visits would have fixed. This is something that better attention by those who were working with them (surgery, school, SS) would have possibly prevented.

PeaceBeWithYou Thu 03-Oct-13 21:17:04

Well of course funding would need to be found - priorities right? The cost of medical facilities and cost to society of abused children would surely negate that in the long run.

I am firmly of the camp that we don't own our children, their rights to a peaceful childhood in a sanitary, loving, safe environment totally trump any adult's suspicion of 'the authorities'.

Baby P's mother also refused access to her home if I recall. Yes the mother is the perpetrator but that argument is bullshit IMO. So basically children with abusive, neglectful, evil mothers/fathers/mother's boyfriends should just have to suck it up if the authorities don't get it right?

thehorridestmumintheworld Thu 03-Oct-13 21:17:37

Yabu hv should be there to check on baby and mums health and be supportive not to do a home inspection and upset vulnerable new mums. if mums are struggling a bit they need to feel comfortable asking for help and advise not feel they are being judged and if they do not perform perfectly the SS will be involved.
I understand why this case upset you of course but it is extremely unusual I have never heard of something like this happening before.

ninjanurse Thu 03-Oct-13 21:21:51

marriedinwhite - I always telephone and make an appointment for a new birth visit. If I cant get hold of the mum I will hand post a letter saying I will visit on x day but if this is not convenient please contact me.

It really saddens me to read all the bad experiences on HVs, I really strive to do the best I can for families and I really think and hope I am non judgemental and non patronising.

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Thu 03-Oct-13 21:23:45

Yanbu. I have totally changed my views on HV visits etc following the recent proliferation of helpless toddlers and little children abused and tortured to death by their bastard wretched parents. I would now happily welcome random knock on the door visits for all households with small children. Don't give any notice, just turn up and check living conditions and the health and well being of children. Yes, it would be fucking annoying and inconvenient but I am sick of the evil cunt parents getting way with murder. Something drastic needs to be done to protect helpless babies.

passedgo Thu 03-Oct-13 21:24:16

I was thinking the same thing today. GP visits at several intervals, and a home visit for no-shows.

This country however is obsessed with a bizarre notion of liberalism that means people are offended by offers of help and call it a Nanny State when questions are asked. Then complain when people slip through the net.

jammiedonut Thu 03-Oct-13 21:25:36

Yabu to think that a hv would have much power to implement change. My DM is a hv, and a fantastic one at that, but she frequently finds her hands tied and has been unable on occasions to get a family the help they deserve through no fault of her own. In most of the cases quoted by pp the family are already known to ss, so not sure what compulsory visits from hv would achieve?

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Thu 03-Oct-13 21:27:37

Well hopefully it would have been noticed that a four year old boy was comfortably fitting into a 6-9 month babygro and the desperately ill little mite would have been rushed to hospital sad

passedgo Thu 03-Oct-13 21:28:35

These cases are not unusual, one child dies every week at the handd of their carers. There will be another one next week. And those are the registered cases, the accidental deaths are recorded separately.

marriedinwhiteisbackz Thu 03-Oct-13 21:31:19

What's your view Ninja of the head of the HV service who was published as saying that HV's were there to teach ignorant mothers the three Cs?

After that I would have shut the door in their faces had I not already complained formally and made it clear they were not welcome in my home and that I would not be seeing them in their grubby clinics.

I'd like a professional view on one of your former leaders please.

Loa Thu 03-Oct-13 21:39:03


I've had good HV and bad. The bad were an unnecessary annoyance and made difficult times worse and I dread to think what effect they would have on vulnerable mothers.

What needs to happen is an overall of children protective services and more money being spent and more SW and when SW want to see DC they have police back up in case parents object.

In most of these cases - if not all - the families are known to the relevant agencies and often concerns have been raised.

There is no need to waste money nosing round the 99% of families doing well when spending money supporting and checking up on the families needing monitoring and help could save lives.

friday16 Thu 03-Oct-13 21:41:17

I would now happily welcome random knock on the door visits for all households with small children.

How would that help? In most of the cases, the parents and the child are known to social services, the child is on whatever this week's name is for the "at risk" register and the parents and the child are regularly seen by doctors, social workers, health visitors and uncle Tom Cobley and all.

In the Hamzah case there was refusal of access, yes. But in all the recent high-profile cases (Williams, Pelska, Connolley, Ishak and going back Climbie) there has been constant involvement by social services, who had continuous and unobstructed access. The problem was that they saw their role as supporting the poor misunderstood mothers and carers, not protecting the children, and the mothers/carers were able to wrap the social workers around their little fingers. Cases where a child drops off the radar and is not seen by professionals are incredibly rare (can anyone recall a case similar to the Hamzah case in living memory?) Cases where a mother who is under daily supervision still manages to kill a child who is subject to regular case conferences and a protection plan are, tragically, a fuck of a lot more common.

MurderOfBanshees Thu 03-Oct-13 21:44:56

"I would now happily welcome random knock on the door visits for all households with small children. Don't give any notice, just turn up and check living conditions and the health and well being of children. Yes, it would be fucking annoying and inconvenient but I am sick of the evil cunt parents getting way with murder. Something drastic needs to be done to protect helpless babies."

I totally get where you are coming from, but the other side of that coin is that in some cases HV's can make things worse. I know that for me personally the HV coming round was actually pushing me closer to a nervous breakdown, and therefore putting my DS more at risk. And I know I'm not the only one.

No idea how you'd get the balance right. sad

SuffolkNWhat Thu 03-Oct-13 21:49:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Threalamandaclarke Thu 03-Oct-13 22:13:29

I have no idea whether this is workable. But I think being able to decline visits clearly helps some ppl hide the awful truth of what thy are doing to their own children.
As an aside, my HV is great. I found her very supportive when i've seen her. But it's hard to get to see her. They're obviously really busy.
My DH doesn't understand why anyone wouldn't want to see a HV. He thinks they must have something to hide grin. I must see if he's logged onto MN as OP.

Threalamandaclarke Thu 03-Oct-13 22:14:57

Good point friday not enough child centred thinking.

friday16 Thu 03-Oct-13 22:33:45

But I think being able to decline visits clearly helps some ppl hide the awful truth of what thy are doing to their own children.

Some? Who? Even in the case of the OP's example of Hamzah Khan, there were two case conferences. It's a cop-out to think that these children were invisible to social services: they weren't.

ReallyTired Thu 03-Oct-13 22:35:29

I had a lovely health visitor with my daughter, but I don't think that complusory checks is the way to go. A health visitor needs to build a rapport with a mother and should not be a wing of social services. Baby P had 60 visits in 8 months and still was not saved.

I feel it is unreasonable to that a reaction of the press when a baby dies is to blame social workers or health visitors. Contray to popular belief Baby P was murdered by his family and not social workers. I feel that anger should be directed at the Tracy Connelly, Jason Owen and Steven Barker.

I find it unbelievable tha Tracey Connelly has been allowed to walk free after 6 years for murdering her own baby. (Or at least standing by while her son was repeately beaten and her daughter raped - lets face none of that trio deserve to live!) It is shocking that Jason Owen has also only been given 6 years.

Accidentallyquirky Thu 03-Oct-13 22:47:20

Yabu. There's only so many times I can have the same conversation with yet another hv and I'm yet to come across a nice health visitor who's opinion I trust etc.
I got my arse handed to me on a plate when I stopped breast feeding and I got a bollocking for not cancelling an appointment ( ds was rushed into hospital so sorry misses hv you where not on my priority list!)
Apparently I should have rang hv for advice in both cases yet I used my own common sense. I wasn't producing enough milk and he was hungry and then his throat and mouth swelled up so couldn't breathe properly.
I re made the appointment and the hv never showed up. Never heard from them since.

kangarooshoes Thu 03-Oct-13 22:52:37

F*ck, no, please. HV are over-stretched as it is, and a complete waste of time for me. (not to mention, rude, ignorant, and crackers on some occasions.) I am close friends with a very good one, who is very over worked, and very good.

The villains in these things are not the HVs, or the GPs, or the system. It's the parents, through and through. There is no excuse for starving your child, and we shouldn't scapegoat those who 'should have done something!' These people ARE doing things, and doing their absolute best, and I bet more kids are picked up these days than a hundred years ago, and, yes, things can improve. But a knee-jerk 'everyone must be inspected, as all parents are potentially eeeeeevil!' is not the way forward.

Morloth Thu 03-Oct-13 22:57:47

I am not actually sure what the HV was for.

We had one visit us after DS2 was born. She was very nice, had a cup of tea and remarked that he was huge (he was) and that was it.

The midwives who visited afterwards and who did the prick test etc were great.

But if I was abusing my kids there is no way the HV would have known about it.

How would a HV visiting everyone actually help and h ow are you going to pay for it?

friday16 Thu 03-Oct-13 23:01:50

I find it unbelievable tha Tracey Connelly has been allowed to walk free after 6 years for murdering her own baby.

She hasn't. She was given an indeterminate sentence with a five year minimum that has now expired. She's entitled to go to a parole board and ask to be freed. She (or her lawyers) have done so. Let's wait and see what the parole board say.

CoconutRing Thu 03-Oct-13 23:13:13

To think Health Visitor home visits should be compulsory by law? - God no!

I worked with some fantastic HVs over the years, but they are too stretched now and their caseloads are huge. Unless there is a massive investment in the the future, I can't see the situation changing.

It seems that HVs have become more and more unwelcome with new mums. I have dealt with a recent complaint where a mum said that she wouldn't trust her HV with the dog!

Sad really, as my HV was brilliant and we are still friends.

riskit4abiskit Thu 03-Oct-13 23:28:51

Another voice here just to add that my hv is a lovely lady and as a new mum I appreciated the support.
Think it is important to keep this service as universal for all and avoid stigmatising people who get hv visits or else they will be even less likely to engage with services and help.

FrightRider Thu 03-Oct-13 23:33:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Thu 03-Oct-13 23:42:33


Pretty much all of these children were 'known' and 'failed' by the system, how on earth is forcing HV's onto everyone going to help?

BabyP had seen HV's, nurses & doctors the week he died.

lisad123everybodydancenow Thu 03-Oct-13 23:44:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sindarella Thu 03-Oct-13 23:51:18

I agree, i have no problems with a hv seeing my dc, i know they are looked after.
Even if the odd hv is useless, it would still be someone going to check on the child. You dont need to be a professional to be able to tell if a child is looked after.

Although there are flaws. Lack of communication is a well known problem when it comes to things like ss and hv. So there will be children forgotten about.

Also, how would a hv know they are seeing the right child? A parent could produce a different one and hv is none the wiser. I remember a case about twins where one was abused but the other was not. They were 'known' but parents just took the looked after twin to appointments, the twins were not seen together in the same room.

marriedinwhiteisbackz Thu 03-Oct-13 23:57:01

The big problem is Lisad they don't actually tell you that you can decline the visit if you don't want it and that is disingenuous and downright dishonest. The other big problem is that every other bit of the health service I use, I can ask questions about before I use it and decide if I want to use it or if I can purchase a better service privately. I did not have that opportunity re the health visitor and had I been able to ask questions about the role the level of qualifications and the level of experience I would have declined before the start because I would have engaged someone more qualified and more professional to provide the information and support the daft little bint was incapable both practically and intellectually of providing.

"well you immunisation is a good idea because that's what it says in the leaftlet" I did immunise but not on the basis of a propaganda driven leaflet I needed to discuss with someone who understood the issues, the research, the benefits, the risks. Not a disinterested little airhead who could read a leaflet. I can read a leaflet thank you. The information was inadequate and I needed advice from somebody who could provide accurate information related to evidence based research. The moron I had referred me to the asthma specialist to discuss my son's breathing difficulties. Because I asked about the link between allergies and early triple vac. My son didn't have breathing difficulties. I actually saw the letter when I insisted on seeing the notes.

MurderOfBanshees Thu 03-Oct-13 23:58:03

married Mine actually told me it was required that I see her when I asked hmm

SeaSickSal Fri 04-Oct-13 00:03:18

Friday it has been reported that Tracey Connelly has been assessed as no longer a risk to the public so it is expected that she is going to be released.

It has also been reported that she's had contact with her children whilst in jail so presumably will be seeing them when out.

I find it repulsive that she is still allowed to see them.

SeaSickSal Fri 04-Oct-13 00:04:49

And my HV was excellent.

It shouldn't just fall on the shoulder of HVs though. Hamzah was not seen by his GP either. Their should be a mandatory requirement for an annual health check and it should be followed up if the child does not attend.

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 00:08:53

You dont need to be a professional to be able to tell if a child is looked after.

Actually, one might argue it helps not to be a professional. Look at the Connelley case. Strip out what we know now (that there were multiple, violent men in the household, that Peter was being beaten, etc) and look at what social services knew at the time. A mother who had dogs that roamed free in the house leaving dogshit everywhere, who wasn't feeding a child who was regularly being seen in A&E, etc, the house full of rubbish, no regular eating, etc. Or in the Keanu Williams case that the child didn't have a bed, clothes or toys, was being shunted from house to house, that the mother was drinking heavily, etc.

Most of us would regard those scenarios as "not looked after". But in the world of optimism, they were "good enough parents". I'd argue that in their haste to disown bourgeois judgmentalism, the social workers in these cases accepted care for the children lower than they wanted for their own children, because they didn't see the children they were working with as quite as deserving as their own children. They were busier feeling terribly pleased with themselves and not judging people for having dogshit in every room than thinking "I don't want my child raised in a house full of shit; why is it OK for this child to be raised in a house full of shit?"

From the Birmingham LSCB response to the Williams SCR:

It is for professionals, regardless of their professional backgrounds to see the child ‘as if they were their own’ and ask themselves whether what they see and hear is acceptable to them and act accordingly.

That that needs to be said is pretty damning.

marriedinwhiteisbackz Fri 04-Oct-13 00:15:51

So did mine murderofthebanshees and her boss and her bosses boss and I took it right up to the CEO of the local healthcare trust where it was confirmed they are statutorily obliged to offer the service but mothers are not obliged to accept it. Lovely how they chose to misrepresent it eh? And nobody so dishonest as the HV service is coming within spitting distance of my child.

I will add though that I pushed it all the way because I could and have a lawyer for a husband but was disgusted at the dishonesty and incompetence of the service.

SeaSickSal Fri 04-Oct-13 00:27:19

I know it won't be a popular view on here but this woman had 8 children.

I think that if a family continues to have multiple children despite no support outside the state it should act as a red flag.

It seemed to be the same with Tracey Connelly, parents having children that they don't want and are not interested in purely because they are little walking money bags to them.

Hutton carried on claiming benefits relating to Hamzah after his death to spend on booze.

I know not all large families on benefits are abusive ones, or just having children for money. But it seems there's been so many cases where they are it's something worth monitoring.

Lau126 Fri 04-Oct-13 00:49:50

My hv was amazing and if not for her my sons cancer would not have been picked u in time as my gp on the other hand told me I was a paranoid first time mother!! I now have a very good and close relationship with my hv.. Not all hv are bad and/or useless IMO

passedgo Fri 04-Oct-13 08:38:19

Someone mentioned upthread that in Germany (not sure about the restof Europe) there is a compulsory visit to the doctor but if you don't take your child there they will visit at home.

I see nothing wrong with that, of course it should be funded, but worth every penny if it saves a child's life. Usually an abusive family has several children, it could save a lot of pressure on services in the future as well.

It is short sighted to think that being overworked is an excuse not to do it. We need to fight for the funding for this to change.

Pagwatch Fri 04-Oct-13 08:44:59

But your soloution to a massively over stretched system is to try and enforce compulsory checks on people who will not, I the vast majority of cases, need one.

If you have a sensible step I would support it. But making considerably more work for an over stretched service does not seem to be sensible.

OldSchoolMamma Fri 04-Oct-13 08:52:52

I'm sure there is some nice HVs - but I'm yet to meet one. The first one we had didn't know what she was talking about (Something about guidelines changing and having to look answers up to our questions because it was all new?). The second one insulted my dad when she was lecturing me and my hubby about using bath thermometers (we should use our elbows instead hmm....Long story) and said my dad (who has raised 4 blooming kids) knows nothing.

So unless many HV's are retrained and have some lessons in talking to a new mother, not down to a new mother I don't think they should be compulsory.
Doctors or nurses at 6 month intervals maybe but not HVs.

PetiteRaleuse Fri 04-Oct-13 08:55:40

There is a good system in Luxembourg. You can request, on leaving hospital, a prescription for midwife home visits in the first couple of weeks. There are then six compulsory checks with your paediatrician between 3 weeks and two years - if you do the checks at the end you get €500 extra benefits, one off payment. Worth it. The checks involve being weighed, a full general check up, referral to consultant if any issues flagged (one of minecwas referred for hip xray and the other to a cardiologist for a heart murmur) and the paed also watches the child's interaction with the accompanying parent very carefully.

AmberLeaf Fri 04-Oct-13 09:03:59

Yes the mother is the perpetrator but that argument is bullshit IMO. So basically children with abusive, neglectful, evil mothers/fathers/mother's boyfriends should just have to suck it up if the authorities don't get it right?

No one has said that.

Lazyjaney Fri 04-Oct-13 09:06:20

All these agencies that " fail" these kids are overstretched and have little real power if a parent wants to lead them on a dance.

To not have another dead child you'd have to massively increase their resources and powers to intrude, eg compulsory hV checkups every quarter etc.

There is a limit to what society can do without turning into a big brother nanny state, and the % of these people is very small, so pissing off the large majority of parents who are by and large responsible, or at least not lethal, is never going to fly.

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 09:13:00

To not have another dead child you'd have to massively increase their resources and powers to intrude, eg compulsory hV checkups every quarter etc.

If you had quarterly heath visitor visits to every child under, say, five you would need to make 20 million visits per year. It's unimaginable that, with oncosts, that could cost less then twenty pounds per visit. Leaving aside the opportunity costs of having trained staff doing something with such a small chance of making a difference, it is highly unlikely that it would prevent more than one death per year. You could spend two hundred million pounds a year and save a damned sight more than one life by other means.

Untargeted interventions avoid the appearance of being judgemental. But they are incredibly expensive, inefficient, and often end up hassling people who will comply while leaving the genuinely at risk (who are usually a lot stroppier) to get on with it.

GangstersLoveToDance Fri 04-Oct-13 09:16:53

I agree with the op - this SHOULD be the case IMO. Any parents who don't like it, tough.

Ds2 had a home visit arranged for his 2 year development check by the HV. A couple of days before he came down with something or other, so I phoned and left a voicemail to cancel it.

Over the next couple of weeks I missed two calls from the HV, who left vm's to call back and rearrange. I always meant to, but with one thing or the other, I never got around to it.

That was 18 months ago. No further attempt was made to contact me, not even a letter...nothing.

There is nothing sinister in my case...but the HV was not to know that. I would have thought it would ring alarm bells if a parent cancelled a developmental check but with the system atm apparently not.

This needs changing IMO.

thebody Fri 04-Oct-13 09:20:26

what I didn't understand was how a multi agency team had several discussions about this poor child but apparently he hadn't been seen by any HCP since he was 4 weeks.

how can you discuss someone you haven't seen?

surely the other children were raising concerns at school. they must have been dirty, smelly and probably underweight if mum was constantly drunk.

I really find it hard to understand that no one acted.

Pagwatch Fri 04-Oct-13 09:22:35

DD has never seen a health visitor.
Is someone really going to spend the time persuing me and forcing my child to have a visit she doesn't need rather than, you know, spending that on increasing spending on families who are already know to arouse agencies.

What ineffectual nonsense.
Shouting and stamping that parents should be made to do x and y is just designed to make oneself feel better, more caring, without actually achieving anything.

Pagwatch Fri 04-Oct-13 09:22:58

various agencies

ReallyTired Fri 04-Oct-13 09:24:11

I link that linking health checks to benefits is a good idea. Prehaps we could go even further and link having an up to date vacination schedule to child benefit. Or prehaps parents who are anti vacination could register that they are refusing their vacinations if they are refusing benefit. Hamzah Khan might still be alive if the fact that he had had no vacinations had been followed up.

When ds was little the health visiting service was more universal. It became targetted after the death of Baby P.

It would be interesting to see which countries have a low incidence of child murder and what polices they have.

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 09:29:13

what I didn't understand was how a multi agency team had several discussions about this poor child

Exactly. Which is why the talk about "sending health visitors to see every child in the country" is so totally missing the point. There were massive concerns about the family, to the point that case conferences (plural) were convened. Those conferences were dysfunctional and ineffective, but they were convened. We haven't seen the SCR yet, but I suspect it will be a car crash: a concerned school, endless reports of DV and alcohol abuse, an overworked and/or naive social worker focussing on the mother's drinking as a problem to be solved, rather than as a risk to be managed. The problem wasn't a failure a health visitor to see a random child; the failure was in social workers who were calling case conferences not taking measures to see the child.

Should children who are known to be at risk be the focus of child protection work, rather than being distracted into worrying about the poor misunderstood parents? Yes. Should professionals make sure that they see children in dysfunctional, at risk households alone, and make sure that the parents are not able to conceal them or their condition? Yes. Should professionals be much more sceptical of the accounts of injury given by mothers (usually) and fathers of children seen as being at risk? Yes. Any of these changes would have saved the lives of Keanu Williams, Hamzah Khan, Kyra Ishak, Daniel Pelska, Peter Connolley and Victoria Climbie (just to mention well-known cases). In each of those cases, devious parents/carers of children well known to social services were allowed to kill their children without anyone noticing. There is no need to posit random inspections of families where there is no concern: these were children known to social services already, who were failed by poor practice and unclear priorities.

I am waiting to be contacted by a HV, to check on my dog.

14 year old DS was playing with the dog, his finger was cut by one of the dogs teeth, we took DS to A&E to get it dressed and some anti biotics, it was nothing serious, it was purely an accident. But A&E have informed us that there will be a visit from the HV, this was a month ago.

Is this another role that the HV has had to take on? I can't see how a HV check is going to be of any benefit, and I am sure their services can be better used elsewhere.

OldSchoolMamma Fri 04-Oct-13 09:29:50

Vaccinations being linked to benefits would be a stupid idea. "Your child will have this vaccine or you won't have enough money to eat" - Yeah real interesting hmm

passedgo Fri 04-Oct-13 09:31:48

You can request, on leaving hospital, a prescription for midwife home visits in the first couple of weeks. There are then six compulsory checks with your paediatrician between 3 weeks and two years - if you do the checks at the end you get €500 extra benefits, one off payment

Wow - in Luxembourg they bribe people to get their babies checked!

An excellent idea.

At least the Luxembourg system acknowledges that it's a joint effort with a mutually coercive type arrangement. They are not forcing anyone into it but they also know that people that don't conform perhaps have something to hide.

I don't see how they can afford to cover regular checks in Europe and not here. It's not about saving one life, it's about saving money long term when families cost the state huge amounts due to being dysfunctional/abusive/dangerous.

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 09:31:55

It would be interesting to see which countries have a low incidence of child murder and what polices they have.

So Britain, then. What makes you think that our murder rate is higher than other comparable countries?

MammaTJ Fri 04-Oct-13 09:34:00

I had an awesome HV who was the only reason I did not change doctors when it was impossible to get an appointment with a doctor.

I finally caved in and changed and never bothered with the HV.

She rang me a few times when my DCs showed up at A&E but that is all. She told me to leave my DS to cry and ignore him at night because he wasn't sleeping well. Even if he had a shitty nappy. One of the main issues with his sleeping was his poos and the fact that they were constant, liquid and making his poor little bum sore within minutes. She knew this!

higgle Fri 04-Oct-13 09:37:43

When my children were little I quickly realised that HV were time wasting ineffectual busybodies and declined visits. I also refused to record progress in the patronising booklet they provided. Thankfully we do not live in a police state and my wishes were respected.

ReallyTired Fri 04-Oct-13 09:38:32

" Britain, then. What makes you think that our murder rate is higher than other comparable countries?"

All the recent child abuse cases in the news. However I have idea if there are similar cases in other EU countries.

I don't think there are any international tables like the PISA education league tables. I have no idea if there is a higher incidence of child abuse in say Sweden or France or Germany. I think it would be interesting to know how we compare with the rest of the world. Somehow I doult that British children are the safest or the most abused in the westen world.

We need research based policy rather than knee jerk reactions like the suggestions that hv visists should be complusory.

hackmum Fri 04-Oct-13 09:39:15

It always seems to emerge in these cases that the mother is "obstructive". I suppose the question then is to what extent you can force someone who is being obstructive to co-operate.

I was also struck in the reports this morning by the fact that when the school reported their concerns, the mother was visited shortly after by a police officer who didn't see anything wrong - everything seemed clean and the children well looked after. Either the mother must have done a very swift clean-up job or the police officer was decidedly unobservant.

This case was particularly heartrending. So many opportunities to intervene, and yet nothing (for whatever reason) was done.

cory Fri 04-Oct-13 09:40:21

Worth every penny if it saves a child's life unfortunately has to be weighed against all the other measures that would also be worth every penny if they saved a child's life- better cancer care, better care for children in care homes, better support for children who run away from home, better training for SS and police who suspect child abuse.

Spending all the money on compulsory visits if we can't afford the extra SS and police resources and haven't got enough foster homes to ensure that children who are taken into care are safe is likely to be a waste of money.

Some of these children were seen by professionals. Their mothers were accomplished liars. And some health conditions do mimic the symptoms of abuse.

What might have saved Daniel Pelka would have been if the doctor had been savvy enough to ask to see the initial diagnosis of his fictitious health condition. Which would have meant money spent not on compulsory home visits but on joined-up computer systems and possibly translators (if she claimed he had been seen in Poland).

Or if he had done what a doctor did to my daughter 9 years ago: said "well, we don't know what is causing these symptoms but there is a risk it could be abuse so we are keeping her in for now until we have investigated thoroughly and she has been interviewed by a trained child psychologist". Which would have meant money spent on more NHS beds. And in fact dd was sent home before the interview- because they ran out of beds. Fortunately she wasn't being abused.

Nobody is disputing that these children should be saved. Just whether compulsory home visits is the way to do it.

IamSlave Fri 04-Oct-13 09:43:56

I am not sure that HV compulsory visits is the key. These people, baby p's mum etc did expose their tortured and battered children to health care professionals, and little Daniel was not hidden away from sight, he went to school every day.

Maybe its something to do with training looking for other signs, or maybe on at risk cases, the power to pop round and see the child without warning.

Maybe that would give them more chance to turn up when the perpetrator is in the middle of something, so could have turned up when little daniel had just been put in the bath etc.

"Not convenient" on at risk cases, would not wash.

Maybe that would also help to stop the violence if people knew by law, the HV could turn up at any moment and demand to see the child?

sorry if this has already been mentioned.

thebody Fri 04-Oct-13 10:02:43

it is still an incredible thing that no one at all saw this child from 4 weeks.

I have to say this but dsil and myself found my lovely fil dead at home after not hearing from him for 3 days.

the flies were clustered around the windows and doors. tge smell in the house was really bad.

how on earth this child decomposed for 4 YEARS and no one, not the neighbours or teachers of the other children, they would have had very smelly clothes, the police officer who visited!!! no one.

it beggars belief.

I have at least one health care professional in my home almost daily. (That's because of DSs health not because I would harm my children.)

I don't think a HV would be able to tell in a 1/2 hour visit if I was harming my child, equally any one HCP.

I think "multi agencys" in any form don't talk enough. DS ends up in hospital but noone tells the others and either they turn up at home or after he's home they don't know he's been in, had meds changed or on a different plan. There's delays in letters or notes that may or may not turn up or be relevant when they do.

I'm relied upon as his main carer to connect the dots, If I didn't do this then no one would know what's going on in the different areas.

Its a complete mind field. I feel I am "managing" DSs care. If there were concerns I could imagine many situations where that could be hidden.

I don't think having one person legally obliged to check on children would change anything. I think its about having a blue print clearly setting out who's had contact and what's happened. Everyone going in blind isn't going to help, if everyone goes in knowing all the facts/concerns right from the get go then maybe they can ask the right questions and make conscious, informed and considered decisions.

ReallyTired Fri 04-Oct-13 10:20:04

Our infant mortality rates are pretty crap for a developed country. We have the 25th lowest infant mortality in the world.

Although these stastics are bit meaningless and different countites have different definitions of what is a still birth and what is a live birth.

IamSlave Fri 04-Oct-13 10:33:47

The main problem is the perpetrators being able to lie to authorities. This goes across the board, child abuse, also abuse in care homes or home for the learning disabled.

If I was abusing someone and knew the date and time of the HCP visit, I would also make sure everything looked fine and dandy on that day.

Therefore I think un announced visits with the rights of the child rather than parent being paramount, where they can see the child, naked, watch it play etc, ask it alone how he/she feels etc.

I still remember how Baby P's mum was able to stuff him, with a broken back into a push chair in the kitchen whilst she sat and span more lies to the social worker right there in the room with him!

fluffyraggies Fri 04-Oct-13 10:34:01

I understood it that on one had been into her home untill that police woman got entry. The photos of it on the news showed a mess that could in no way have been cleaned up in a hurry! sad

I have watched the report including the policewoman speaking about why she pushed until she finally gained entry. She described it as her maternal instinct telling her that a house that stank like that (through the letter box!) and that the state of the mother 'was just not normal or right when there are children inside'.

I don't know for sure the reason why the police woman was knocking that day, but someone on the news said the family was known to the authorities but only because of 7/8 domestic violence reports. It doesn't seem to be the case that this poor boy was finally discovered for any other reason other than responding to domestic violence reports. He would be laying there still if that police woman hadn't persisted in getting in sad

passedgo Fri 04-Oct-13 10:49:01

Often these deaths are recorded as accidents, often they are, but sometimes caused by neglect. It's not just the death, it's the tip of the grim iceberg. It's the neglect and suffering that goes on and is perpetuated down the generations that goes along with each one of these statistics. I notice that those countries with the lowest death rates are also those with perhaps slightly less libertarian attitude (i.e. more public intrusion into lives).

Clutching - I too have this crazy situation where every medical professional I see asks me about my child's medical history rather than looking in the file. The paed records are all on paper, the GP has a computer system which helps and hospitals each have a separate record. We have quite a lot of A&E admissions but each time we go we may as well have a new child. One time I had to repeat what happened 7 times to different people. It took a long time for doctors to actually talk directly to dd instead of talking over her. I had to prompt them to do this.

But your point is really crucial - the NHS could be doing so much better with all this. Those people who mismanaged that wizbang computer system that cost us billions should all be held partly accountable for these deaths. I mean, how hard can it be to have a system, start it from scratch (no need to copy over old records, it can run concurrently) and allow access to relevant personnel from Police and SS. I mean, really. Yes it's big in terms of the data involved, but it's not all that complicated.

Flatiron Fri 04-Oct-13 11:17:59

As a side issue, there still seems to be a strong correlation in some people's minds between 'cleanliness and tidiness' of the house and well looked after children. If that had been applied in my case in the weeks after I had any of my dc, I think they'd have been whipped away!

I still remember my hv saying, when I remarked, during her visit, on what an embarrassing slum I was living in, that she worried when a house was too tidy, as it meant that not enough attention was being given to the child! (Made me feel loads better, lovely woman!) I know that's a huge over-generalisation, and some abused children do live in really squalid conditions, just as some mega-tidy people are also wonderful parents.

It just emphasises how difficult it can be sometimes for the over-stretched professionals to get it right. sad

I would agree with you...... IF health visitors were actually properly trained health professionals who could give proper advice, pick up on issues properly and without hysterics, and could reasonably assess issues.

My experience is that they can do none of these consistently and without the need to pursue/ push you on to other healthcare professionals, push for particular types of parenting to be followed and not make clear what is advice and what it is based on, and can be quite over reactionary.

IamSlave Fri 04-Oct-13 11:34:47

Flariton I agree with you, but really your house was as bad as those in the pics? There is messy build up where you have not cleaned for a few weeks but those pictures do show squalor.

Notquitesureagain Fri 04-Oct-13 11:49:45

I haven't read the whole thread but really want to know why there isn't more focus on the boy's father? He doesn't seem to have done much other than put in one call to social services but yet he's barely been mentioned.

Leaving all that aside, it absolutely beggars belief that all the child's siblings etc could have lived like that, presumably knowing that the boy was dead, and that not a single adult who came into contact with them spotted that something was seriously amiss.

OP YABU. The police force is facing huge cuts, how on earth will dragging them out to thousnads of homes of perfectly capable parents who simply do not want or need a HV intruding, help matters? It will just distract from needy and vulnerable people elsewhere.

What is needed is more resources and funding in social care, and more communication and 'joined up thinking' between schools, GP's, and social services. There are also more than likely a few social workers who should not be in that line of work, who have not/do not follow up when it is critically needed.

ReallyTired Fri 04-Oct-13 12:17:20

"Leaving all that aside, it absolutely beggars belief that all the child's siblings etc could have lived like that, presumably knowing that the boy was dead, and that not a single adult who came into contact with them spotted that something was seriously amiss."

I imagine that the child's sibblings were battle tired and that every day was a fight for their survial. I hope they are getting the help and support that they need to come to terms with what has happened.

Flatiron Fri 04-Oct-13 12:24:52

No, IamSlave , even at my least motivated, thankfully my house wasn't as bad as that.
I suppose I had that case in mind (can't remember which one, but it was mentioned upthread) and I'm sure there have been others, where the police were sent to check, found the house 'clean and tidy' and didn't think there was a problem. Also posted to highlight that there are genuinely lovely, helpful hvs about. smile

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 12:25:22

He doesn't seem to have done much other than put in one call to social services but yet he's barely been mentioned.

And that call itself is contested.

There's hideous sexism involved. The usual situation is that a child is with its mother, but is killed by the joint action of the mother and a new male partner. The mother is often vulnerable, but the social outrage is towards her, not him. A woman not protecting a child from abuse is seen as a terrible offence against humanity; a man inflicting the abuse (or, at best, not protecting a child from abuse) is seen as just one of those things. It's sexist towards women (who are criticised for not doing better) and, to coin a phrase, it's the sexism of low expectations towards men (who are excused for doing worse).

Unfortunately, corralling risk factors will be contentious. For example, there have been two MN threads in the last few months of the form "why is my school targeting help at children on FSM? My child is on FSM and is doing fine, so it's insulting". Additional help via Pupil Premium is hardly the arrival of the childcare Gestapo, no matter how sensitive you are to insult. But mothers whose children are abused are disproportionately likely to themselves have been involved in the care system; they have had difficult upbringings which mean they don't have a firm grasp of "normal" relationship, tend to be needy and tolerate treatment from violent men that is not acceptable more generally and to lack strong support networks to protect them. Connolly, Khan, Shuttleworth (Keanu Williams' mother), Climbie. Alternatively, they will be isolated for linguistic and cultural reasons, again lacking any sort of support network or relatives willing to intervene (Climbie, Ishak, Pelska, a case in Birmingham recently whose name I can't recall, a couple of horrific cases in the north of England last year).

But if you performed some factor analysis on child abuse cases, which would allow you to score people on a range of potential issues and the look more closely at families that score atypically, you can imagine the howling that would ensue. After yet another case involving a family that are living on the margins of society, the cry goes up that "abuse happens in middle-class households too and we shouldn't stigmatise". But there hasn't (wracks brain, comes up with nothing, willing to be shown wrong) a death from abuse and/or neglect in a middle-class family with employed parents in living memory. The abuse is different, and the means of detecting it and dealing with it are different, too. Deaths from physical neglect and abuse are not uniformly distributed through our society, and if we want to target help effectively, we shouldn't pretend that it is.

Lazyjaney Fri 04-Oct-13 12:38:31

Agree with Friday16 re reliable factor analysis, but I'd also bet it trips over every PC tripwire going.

Madeleine10 Fri 04-Oct-13 12:48:44

"Leaving all that aside, it absolutely beggars belief that all the child's siblings etc could have lived like that, presumably knowing that the boy was dead, and that not a single adult who came into contact with them spotted that something was seriously amiss."*

This sheds some light on it, and also a neighbour contacted Ss in 2011 but whatever happened as a result, they didn't find the little boy.

horsetowater Fri 04-Oct-13 15:08:38

Mr Hutton’s marriage broke down when his daughter was a rebellious teenager who regular smoked cannabis and she was soon living independently.
At 16, Hutton met 18-year-old Aftab Khan outside a nightclub in Bradford. She became pregnant in her teens with Tariq.
Khan worked as a mechanic and taxi driver. Hutton briefly worked as a care assistant, but primarily she looked after her children.
The court heard she was beaten by Khan throughout the 20-year relationship.
Her personal problems worsened dramatically a few months after Hamzah was born when Hutton’s mother Ann died from breast cancer in December 2005, leaving her heartbroken.
She was on anti-depressants for post-natal depression and turned increasingly to alcohol.
Police were regularly called to the house, but Hutton refused to make a complaint against her violent partner. She changed her mind and they finally split up in December 2008 after Khan attacked Tariq.
Khan was later convicted of beating Hutton.
During police interviews, he told officers: 'She’s a bitter and twisted woman and there’s something seriously wrong with her. She don’t brush her teeth, she don’t clean herself, she don’t look after herself. She’s an alcoholic.'

I got that from here

amawhoisayiam Fri 04-Oct-13 15:27:31

There should be some kind of check ups as there's barely any contact between parents and health professionals from one year to the next in a lot of areas.

And that evil woman shoould have got longer than 15 years, it should have been life and throw away the key.

cestlavielife Fri 04-Oct-13 16:33:11

it was a psco who persevered to find out what was going on...

IamSlave Fri 04-Oct-13 16:44:36

This PSCO is showing what was describe as lacking in the Stuart Hazell Tia sharpe case.

BarnYardCow Fri 04-Oct-13 17:22:41

I am wondering whether linking the red book to child benefit would make any difference?

MurderOfBanshees Fri 04-Oct-13 17:23:59

Not everyone gets CB any more though BarnYard

Lexie1970 Fri 04-Oct-13 17:27:58

Somebody asked further up thread asking about the father and lack of involvement .... I was wondering if he had some sort of court order barring him from family due to DV and then subsequent complaints about mother were seen as a case of sour grapes...

I cannot comprehend how teachers etc were not logging concerns over the other 5/6 children - were they clean, did their clothes fit did they seem happy - the one picture of hamza and he looks such a sad little soul sad

Sirzy Fri 04-Oct-13 17:29:58

Its such a complex situation and I don't think something as simple as a HV visit would highlight enough to raise alarm bells in a lot of cases.

I do think more of a multi agency approach is needed, and more money (and training?) needs to be given to HV and SS to help them identify "at risk" families and provide them with support.

BarnYardCow Fri 04-Oct-13 17:30:11

These people always seem to have enough money for themselves or their drink etc, shame you can't ensure it gets spent on the children somehow. Unfortunately, there is aleays someone that finds a way around the system.

IamSlave Fri 04-Oct-13 18:14:03

more money (and training?) needs to be given to HV and SS to help them identify "at risk" families and provide them with support

But the pcos who used tenacity and gut instinct to get in that house, had only been on the job for one day?

She didnt mention special training, she said it was gut instinct, and sort of obvious there were problems....

Charlottehere Fri 04-Oct-13 19:19:41

Nope, strongly believe in a parents right to decline hv visits. I never have although would have liked to with dc3/4. Mostly crap ime but one was a life saver.

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Fri 04-Oct-13 19:42:54

I'm not sure if I have missed this somewhere in the thread, but a woman who worked for Social Services (it transpires) made an anonymous call to Social Sevices to report the state of this child.

Anyone suggesting compulsory HV visits as a solution to this problem really, really doesn't have a scooby.

Jengnr Fri 04-Oct-13 20:07:41

I don't really know what a HV is for.

Ours is nice enough, comes when she says she will (unlike the midwives), had a brew, dropped off some leaflets, gave me useless info about feeding, weighed him and fucked off.

I have no idea what service she was supposed to provide but if that was it it's a huge waste of time!

AintNobodyGotTimeFurThat Fri 04-Oct-13 20:29:07

I don't give a shit if people hate HV.

Suck it the fuck up.

At the end of the day I'd rather a parent hated the HV coming over but having it happen 2 times a year and just put up with the half an hour visit and to stop the 1% of people who would do harm to their children, than to not come at all and risk it.

I'm not jumping for joy when they come and visit but they are doing their job and making sure my daughter is safe. If you treat your kids well, you have nothing to worry about.

Pagwatch Fri 04-Oct-13 20:44:27

Well that's the kind of well reasoned arguement that turns me right around on an issue.

My DD was risking nothing by the HV not attending.

'If a parent is doing their job they won't mind the visits as they will have nothing to hide.'

I'm doing my job thanks and I mind very much.

marriedinwhiteisbackz Fri 04-Oct-13 20:48:23

No issues with HVs visiting providing:

They develop basic courtesy
They turn up clean
They are on the ball enough to fill out a form properly
They understand the mantra they are dictating
They are able to make constructive comments
They have been imbued with common sense
They tell the truth about the purpose of their role
They develop a modicum of respect for the majority of parents (the tax payers who pay their salaries)
If they dictate thou shalt breastfeed they have the skills to provide effective clinical help.

As you were.

The majority of HVs in my life made parenting HARDER not easier.

2 HVs were absolutely worth their weight in gold though

AintNobodyGotTimeFurThat Fri 04-Oct-13 21:30:44

Yes, Star but you have nothing to hide.

You mind either because you think they are incompetent or it's taking up your time, not because you are a child abuser.

If it's the former well, you wouldn't be the first person to think that. But like police officers and doctors etc you'll have great HVs and crap ones.

If it's the latter, I think it's about sucking it up really. It's not like it takes up a large amount of your time.

I might have been harsh about swearing about this as not a keen swearer, but I seriously just can't bare the thought of something being missed. If there is even a possibility of this saving one child, I think it's worth it to be honest.

A 'knee-jerk' solution isn't going to work in all cases.

I had one really good HV, who I had plenty of time for, and one useless one who didn't understand how centile charts work.

As others say there's a wide range in competence.

However, visits missed without adequate explanation should definitely have the case shunted higher up the priority list.

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 21:45:20

to stop the 1% of people who would do harm to their children,

It's nothing like 1%. Are you seriously saying that, at any time, one million children are being actively harmed by abuse or neglect that would be prevented by health visitors, but isn't prevented now?

SunshineMMum Fri 04-Oct-13 21:49:07

This is so sad, had can a child slip off the radar like that, no GP appointments, preschool application, or checks, vaccinations? I just don't understand and my Mum worked for social services.

I dunno aint. One HV tried to convince me I had PND when I was merely upset at her incompetence wrt breastfeeding support. Another didn't seem to approve of the way I was cosleeping.

However, one lovely HV was able to investigate a Social Services allegation and tell me it wasn't child protection like they were telling me it was and gavebme some sound advice on how to deal with them, and our current one phones me every 3 months to ask if there is anything she can do and when I requested hearing tests the appointment letters arrived the very next day.

So I have mixed feelings.

Pagwatch Fri 04-Oct-13 22:34:20

I don't give a toss about swearing. But Aintnobody, I don't believe or a moment it will save lives.
It will create a huge increase in workload, forcing HVs in front of women who have no need of their services.

It's just about trying to find a way to control the cruel or disinterested. You don't do that by making the entire population jump through burecratic hoops.
It's nonsense.

serin Fri 04-Oct-13 22:59:17

See I think we need less HV's and more specially trained police officers/SW's who actually have the power to do something.

HV's are like middlemen and so often things don't get communicated thoroughly between professional agencies.

If we spent less on ineffective HV services we could spend more on Social Services aimed at vulnerable children who are known to be at risk.

My DSis recently reported a child whom she thinks is being hugely neglected. She was told by the duty social worker that they couldn't accept the referral as DSis didn't know the child's name. No one knows the child's name. He is never allowed out.

MurderOfBanshees Sat 05-Oct-13 08:42:13

Aint Do try reading the thread. I know I've already said that my HV was such a nightmare that she actually made things worse and pushed me towards a nervous breakdown and was putting my DS more at risk. It's not just about not liking the HV or sucking it up.

curlew Sat 05-Oct-13 08:48:48

I agree with you.

I remember that the HV had concerned about my ds's weight gain when he was 8 weeks old. I didn't - he was bf and doing "catch-down" growing. So I never took him to be weighed again, and only showed up at the clinic for vaccinations. I remember at the time thinking how easy it was to opt out of the system, and how wrong that was.

AintNobodyGotTimeFurThat Sat 05-Oct-13 14:16:00

I am saying that around 1% are probably harmed by someone in their family Friday but not necessarily deliberate, that would be a lot lower. 100? 200? I'm not too sure.

I'm just trying to state that if it could help one child, then I see no problem with doing this and like a previous poster has said if a meeting is skipped more than once, it should be looked into.

I know not everyone likes HVs and it's understandable as some are rubbish but so are some policemen, doctors etc doesn't mean these professionals should all be tarnished with the same brush.

Sorry about your situation, Starlight it seems you had some real mixed experiences with HVs. I have only had one child, so have only had experience of 2 HVs so far who I'd say are middle of the range as far as competency is concerned.

I think it's very wrong though to try and convince someone they have PND. To mention it could be a possibility and if you felt low you should go to your doctor is fair enough though but HVs aren't trained Psychologists, so I can't see how they'd know for sure you'd have had PND, even if you were to have had it.

But the problem is then Pag what do you do? How do you stop the cruel and vindictive, or those who are unwell even from harming their children, if you don't have regular intervention to check? Would once a year really be a bad thing for each family with children say, under 5 years old?

I'm not saying that it's the case for everyone, Murder I was saying some people merely don't like them because they take up there time. I was saying if that is the case, they should suck it up. If someone had a really stupid and incompetent HV they obviously should put complaints in and not have that HV ever again, that goes without saying.

I'm not saying people don't have bad experiences with HV I have said they do. I'm talking here in general, no specific people mentioned.

friday16 Sat 05-Oct-13 14:33:42

I'm just trying to state that if it could help one child, then I see no problem with doing this

So you have a limitless budget and a limitless number of skilled staff, and there's nothing else they could do that would be better? What if helping that one child meant that elsewhere in the social care system, two children who would have been helped now aren't?

Blanket interventions are incredibly expensive, and rarely effective. That's not about not wanting to spend money, it's a realisation that there's not a limitless pool of skilled people.

The risk factors for child neglect are reasonably well known. Why not target the interventions on those first? Yet again: children who come to harm are rarely unknown to social services. The problem isn't identifying them, it's making effective interventions. Spending money and resources on looking at children who are not currently known to social services to see if they should be (there's no evidence that such children exist in any volume) just distracts from providing care and support to those that are known.

Would once a year really be a bad thing for each family with children say, under 5 years old?

Show us the SCR involving a child being killed or seriously harmed who had not had detailed previous contact with social services, including a case conference. Then you might have an argument that children exist who are (a) at risk and (b) unknown. The problem is not identifying children as being at risk; the problem is helping them. The failings are once children are in the system, not the process by which they get there.

AintNobodyGotTimeFurThat Sat 05-Oct-13 18:09:38

I agree re: intervention with risk factors is very important, but who would be doing these interventions?

I'm just stating my opinion. I'm not going to put it into legislation. I'd have to look at it closer to make any decisions if I were a politician.

filee777 Sat 05-Oct-13 18:34:38

I absolutely think HCP's should have power of entry! They are there to see the child, not the parents.

filee777 Sat 05-Oct-13 18:42:10

Williams and his siblings were signed off

There was another case of a child left to starve and mummify,

A child dies every week at the hands of awful parents. We have to change something!

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Sat 05-Oct-13 18:45:54

Everything Friday16 has said. Everything. But especially this - which is what I have been saying on several threads, but not as well...

Show us the SCR involving a child being killed or seriously harmed who had not had detailed previous contact with social services, including a case conference. Then you might have an argument that children exist who are (a) at risk and (b) unknown. The problem is not identifying children as being at risk; the problem is helping them. The failings are once children are in the system, not the process by which they get there

Yes filee what we really need is to have HV's with 'Power of Entry'. Most of them don't know which end to change and which end to feed let alone anything else. I feel HUGE sympathy for the good HV's because the vast majority of their colleagues are worse than useless (the few good ones are the ones on MN I'm sure!) and it must make life very difficult. There's absolutely no way on earth they should have PofE.

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Sat 05-Oct-13 18:48:31

Yes, Fillee we do. But giving HV's PofE is not the way forward. Making HV visits compulsory is not the solution either. These poor babies had had 'case conferences' about them, they were ALL known to Social Services - why that service failed them is what needs investigating (yet again) and that's where the focus and money needs to be.

filee777 Sat 05-Oct-13 18:48:34

All HCP's should.

filee777 Sat 05-Oct-13 18:49:50

What do you think HV's are going to do with PoE? I know some of them are a bit crap but they are hardly dangerous are they?

We are talking about purely for health checks

friday16 Sat 05-Oct-13 19:34:12

We are talking about purely for health checks

What's the point? The children who die or are seriously harmed are being seen weekly, in many cases daily, by an army of health care professionals. The Khan case is a wild outlier, but even in his case he was seen as a subject of concern and was the subject of two case conferences. In the Connolly, Pelska, Ishak, Williams and Climbie cases, the mothers/carers were manipulative and convincing, and were able to persuade senior social workers, consultant paediatricians and the police of their bona fides. People who are able to deceive and/or intimidate senior professionals are not going to be "found out" by health care visitors. The problem is not making the initial assessment of being at risk, as that happens already; the problem is doing something about it.

In the Khan case, there is quite rightly outrage about the boy's body being left to mummify in situ. It's a symptom of the failure of the system that he was invisible alive and unnoticed and unmissed dead. But what is more frightening is that an obviously out of control alcoholic, the subject of multiple concerns about domestic violence and with a large number of children and no visible income, was the subject of multiple case conferences at which point it was decided to take no further action. The mantra of "good enough parenting" and "professional optimism" went too far. In the case of Connelly and Pelska, concerns about DV affecting the mother similarly overrode protection concerns for the child, and the child's place at the centre of child protection was lost.

If you want to protect children, it does not involve naive health visitors turning up on the doors of functioning families in order to make us all feel better about ourselves. It involves social services being willing to make tough decisions to remove children from women who are already themselves victims.

Khan, Connolly, Pelska, Ishak, Williams (Rebecca Shuttleworth), Climbie (Marie-Thérèse Kouao): take out the fact that they killed a child they were responsible for and they are sympathetic cases: raped as child, refugee, victims of DV, abused by schizophrenic husband, etc. They were hopelessly, pathetically inadequate parents, and with the possible exception of Kouao, they did not set out to kill a child. Social workers saw them as victims themselves, and attempted to make them better parents. The social workers didn't expect them to kill their children, because most pathetically inadequate parents don't. The question is: should we be leaving children to be raised by pathetically inadequate parents, even if with a lot of help they become slightly less inadequate? What life was Peter Connolly or Hamzah Khan destined for had they not died?

There isn't a queue, or even a vague huddle outside the door, of competent people wanting to adopt trouble toddlers. Children's homes have proved disastrous. There's a critical shortage of foster carers. What do we want to do about children being raised badly by inadequate parents? What's the point in identifying the tiny handful that slip through the system, when we're so bad at helping the vast majority that don't?

filee777 Sat 05-Oct-13 20:11:37

I read the Williams case review and it said they had signed his siblings off the child protection register.

That was a huge failing of social services make no mistake.

A child growing up in care is better than a dead child.

friday16 Sat 05-Oct-13 20:24:20

I read the Williams case review and it said they had signed his siblings off the child protection register.

Exactly. So what would visits from Health Visitors have achieved? Junior staff raised concerns. They gave those concerns to social services. Social services said it was OK. What do you want to happen next? Shuttleworth was herself subject to social services review as a care leaver. There was no shortage of oversight, it was just that they were concerned about care leaver Rebecca rather than her children. She didn't conceal her children from anyway: it's just that no-one gave a toss about them.

One of the most blame-shifting things in the Pelska SCR was the argument that social services having declined to take action about Daniel, the school should have escalated the concerns. That really is a dreadful argument: it's saying that social services are not responsible for reviewing their own judgements, and want to be able to cock things up secure in the knowledge that any failures are the responsibility of other, far less trained, staff failing to demand a reappraisal.

filee777 Sat 05-Oct-13 20:26:43

Williams was never on the register, his siblings were, a year case review in the home may well have saved his life.

filee777 Sat 05-Oct-13 20:29:11

I agree with you about social services though. Completely.

Pagwatch Sat 05-Oct-13 21:09:58

I want to reply to you Ain't but tbh Friday said everything I wanted to.

It's just pointless to suggest that forcing me to produce my much loved and well cared for child for scrutiny once a year will do anything to help the vulnerable.
It's just a ridiculous suggestion.

friday16 Sat 05-Oct-13 21:30:55

A child growing up in care is better than a dead child.

Are a hundred children growing up in case better than a dead child? 99 children might not agree, and telling people that the destruction of their family is acceptable collateral damage in exchange for protecting other children is a pretty cynical argument.

Taking children into care has catastrophic consequences on their life chances. It's easy to look at the cases where children died and then point to the reasons they should have been in care, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. However, the consequences of a more gung-ho attitude toward taking children into care is that more will be taken into care who would not have been killed or seriously harmed in their parents' care. Given how bad the outcomes are for children in care, leaving them where they are would have been better.

How many children are we willing to see taken into care, which will potentially do them active harm, in order to prevent harm to one other child? Be careful how you answer: the "if only one life is saved" argument doesn't work well in this scenario.

friday16 Sat 05-Oct-13 21:41:23

It's just pointless to suggest that forcing me to produce my much loved and well cared for child for scrutiny once a year will do anything to help the vulnerable.

It's worse than pointless.

Social services would spend their time pursuing compliant middle class parents living in settled accommodation. They could then worry about whether mothers are breastfeeding too much or too little, making wild claims about the health implications of using the wrong sort of washing powder and checking that stair gates are properly fastened. They'd know where the mothers are, the houses would be reasonably clean, there wouldn't be any nasty dogs or piles of rubbish, and social workers would enjoy the power of dealing with women with a lot to lose who would be frightened of, and attentive to, the "orders" social workers could issue. They might even get a nice cup of tea.

Meanwhile, vulnerable parents without fixed addresses, whose children are genuinely at risk from chaotic lifestyles, who have had regular contact with social services already and therefore know how to manipulate the system, are not remotely intimidated and who are unlikely to be responsive to any sort of intervention, will be ignored even more than they already are.

Who would be helped by this?

filee777 Sat 05-Oct-13 21:43:54

Ummm... Who said anything about taking kids into care?

I said have the right to interview/examine them, not take them into care.

People just go totally over the top don't they!

friday16 Sat 05-Oct-13 22:01:36

I said have the right to interview/examine them, not take them into care.

How many children have been subject of SCRs in the past ten years who had not been involved with social services, including some sort of protection plan? What makes you think that health visitors would do a better job? What is the purpose of the interview? The children are already subject to protection plans anyway.

Children are not being abused in isolation from social services. Families are coming to social services' attention and social workers (trained social workers, a lot more trained in child protection than health visitors) have two choices: support the parents (usually the mother) or remove the child. Those are the options. They start off supporting the mother, and what's gone wrong is that having made the decision to try to make the mothers "good enough", they didn't realise that the moment had come to switch from support to protection and remove the child. A well-meaning amateur interviewing the child once a year would make no difference to that.

filee777 Sat 05-Oct-13 22:06:34

I think it would have made a difference to Williams and the two mummification cases!

Someone on a different thread mentioned that in France if worries were founded the school would allow a child to be examined there. What exactly is wrong with that?

Before school, it's clear that we need to give children more support and monitoring because they keep being murdered by their parents! It happens too much. One meeting a year in house is not ridiculous, it's sensible. Until school age when the schools should be conducting such assessments regularly and contacting relevant authorities.

friday16 Sat 05-Oct-13 22:28:34

I think it would have made a difference to Williams

How? He was seen at home, repeatedly (SCR p. 39). Those visits raised concerns. Within a few months, there had been a S.47 enquiry and a core assessment. (page 40).

Keanu Williams was killed in spite of an a S.47 enquiry, a core assessment and a recommendation tha an IPCC be convened? What do you think a health visitor could do better? The failures started once social services were considering protection measures, not in realising that protection was needed.

"...the focus of the meeting was not on the history of Rebecca Shuttleworth and Keanu but on the immediate concerns about Father 1‘s reported ‘threats. Rebecca Shuttleworth was seen by the professionals as plausible and as a ‘victim’ in relation to Father 1."

He didn't die because people didn't know he was at risk. He died because people didn't do anything about it.

filee777 Sat 05-Oct-13 22:38:07

Sorry I must have my case reviews crossed.

Definitely would have helped in the other two cases though.

I think there are two issues here, one with children disappearing and another with totally inadequate judgement calls being made by relevant authorities.

friday16 Sat 05-Oct-13 23:05:41

Definitely would have helped in the other two cases though.

How do you know that?

There hasn't been an SCR into the Khan case published.

The other example you quoted, the death of Declan Hainey, I simply can't see what point you're making.

The mother had been under constant supervision by social services, and had been subject to repeated case conferences. The child was seen at home (Significant Case Review, paragraph 24) and concerns were raised to a senior social worker, but nothing was done. Again I ask: why do you think the problem is people being detected as being at risk, rather than what is done? How in this case would someone else reporting concerns have helped?

After the child's death, by the way, it's a complete car crash of a judicial process.

The mother was prosecuted and convicted, but all the convictions have been overturned by an appeal court and the original trial was, we now know, a total shambles. There's no evidence that the child was mistreated, at least to the extent of serious harm, as the appeal court rejected all the evidence (given, we now know, by an "expert" who had no medical qualifications, and neglected to mention that the other witness who supported her was her PhD student).

At worst, you have a child who died of unexplained causes and whose death wasn't reported by a mother who was very vulnerable. So you think that a child who may not even have being abused could have been "saved" had there been more contact? On what possible evidence?

Read about the whole disaster here.

filee777 Sat 05-Oct-13 23:13:32

I don't think you can possibly say (regardless of the retrial) that it was not wholly unaccountable that the little
Boy was missing for so long and nobody noticed. That's the point I am trying to make, children should not just 'go missing' and I do believe that a lot more needs to be done to make social workers and other HCP's have more powers as they are the people who see it, not just hear about it from a script.

Thanks for the link I read it through and it's interesting to me that after hearing she was absolutely responsible for leaving that little boy to die, that it might not be the case. It shows up yet another flaw in our social system.

I have to sleep now, but I will think on it and come back. Thanks again.

JakeBullet Sat 05-Oct-13 23:28:36

As an exHV I have to say that I don't think this would work....although I can utterly understand OP's thinking about it.

I have taken regular calls about children who have not been seen by anyone for long periods of time and in most cases there is good reason for this. Parents who go abroad regularly, those who shun nurseries etc and travellers etc.

Finding these children takes time ...on one occasion it took me nearly 18 months to track down a child who the nursery expressed concerns for as he had simply disappeared from their nursery and they had concerns about his development. It turned out that the parents had gone abroad for a year and returned to a completely different address over a year later.

I have also seen families who have good reason for requesting no further HV involvement. Those who have children with disabilities are often inundated with appointments and the last thing they need is to add a HV to that.

The key issue is that most children are seen regularly by SOMEONE ...usually that is in nursery etc and then later on school. It doesn't have to be a HV but perhaps there needs to be a system for flagging up those children not being seen by anybody.

In the case of AH, she would have had regular post natal visits from a midwife and a new birth visit from a HV. Evidently life was more normal then as none of these visits flagged up concerns. AH was an experienced mother and rightly left to make her own decisions regarding baby clinics etc. most women who have had a third, forth or fifth baby will not bother with baby clinic and in the absence of any safeguarding concerns there is no reason for interference.

I gather that systems for checking on children who have not been seen by anyone are being looked at in the light of this case. I doubt that it will result in enforced HV contact though.

TidyDancer Sun 06-Oct-13 07:29:51

In the one case I personally know of that needs so,etching done about it, the HV has been fucking useless, but then so has every other agency/organisation. The two children in the family live in squalor (not quite as bad as the Hamzah case, but could easily get there) and they have been reported to SS multiple times. The HV comforts the mum every time this has happened, not offering any real support to improve things and the mum is now able to avoid seeing her in the home. SS have told the mum that because they have seen worse, no further action will be taken. Police were refused entry at the front door on one occasion and never pursued it.

The DCs are neglected and not abused in the family I refer to, but I have no faith in any agency if that situation can be allowed to continue. I fail to see how increased visits from an HV would help.

TidyDancer Sun 06-Oct-13 07:30:18

so,etching should be 'something'

friday16 Sun 06-Oct-13 09:17:54

they have been reported to SS multiple times. The HV comforts the mum every time this has happened

The protection of Peter Connelly failed because the social worker assigned to the case, MW, saw her role as supporting Tracy Connelly. Each time there was a threatened escalation of protection, MW worked with Tracy Connelly - whom she saw, at that point, with some justification as a vulnerable victim - in order to stabilise the situation. In the case of Keanu Williams, the SCR explicitly points out that because of her extensive experience in the care system, Rebecca Shuttleworth was plausible and convincing as a victim and knew how to work the social workers to keep them onside. Having now (thanks filee) read the SCR into the death of Declan Hainey, at paragraph 18 it states "(mother) presented as an articulate and intelligent woman who was able regularly to provide very plausible reasons for failure to attend for planned appointments".

Health Visitors are not primarily intended to do child protection. Child protection requires what is referred to as "respectful disbelief" or "professional scepticism": there are already protection concerns, and the social worker should be starting from the position that if the child is being abused, then the carers are lying. It's the failure of that scepticism, when the social worker starts to believe the carer and see them as the victim, that is the heart of several recent failures of protection.

Should Heath Visitors arrive in houses and start from the position that if the child is in any way remarkable (underweight, overweight, marks, not sleeping, making poor eye contact, too noisy, not noisy enough) or the house is in any way remarkable (too tidy, too untidy, too warm, too cold) that the mother is lying and the child is at risk? If "yes", then what you've just done is destroyed the potential value of health visitors to the 99.9999% of parents who are not abusers. If "no", then your desire to have them as frontline investigators of potential abuse just failed.

filee777 Sun 06-Oct-13 09:22:27

Interesting Friday.

You don't think there is room for both?

Although, of the three hv's, one has been completely useless.

Well has anyone got any thoughts on what should change? Because surely something must.

ender Sun 06-Oct-13 10:15:11

Ninjanurse - you said you're a staff nurse working with a health visiting team. You mentioned that you do new birth visits.
Am surprised at this, I thought the first visit was done by a HV who made an assessment then delegated to skill mix team if appropriate.
Is this happening because the PCT can't recruit qualified health visitors? Or perhaps it's to cut costs, HVs earn more than staff nurses.

friday16 Sun 06-Oct-13 10:17:57

You don't think there is room for both?

No. Specialist, trained social workers have routinely failed when trying to balance supporting the mother with protecting the child, and they are only involved when there are already concerns. It would be impossible to be appropriately sceptical when there are no prior concerns (ie, when the chance that abuse is happening is perhaps a hundred times smaller) and 99 times out of 100 they would be right to support the mother rather than regard it as abuse. And, as JakeBullet points out, even if they did start reporting suspicions, the amount of extra work created would detract from real protection work.

filee777 Sun 06-Oct-13 10:19:11

Then what, in your opinion, needs to change Friday.

friday16 Sun 06-Oct-13 10:27:56

When reports are made, and case conferences convened, social workers with protection in mind need to take and follow through sceptical, focussed action. Social workers must not accept conditions (filth, squalor, drug and alcohol use) that they would not tolerate for their own children. Children should be listened to, and should be at the focus of child protection. If a child being removed to a place of safety will cause harm and upset to alcoholics and drug users, that tough shit: it is not the role of small children to act as animated teddy bears for the comfort of inadequate parents. "Cultural sensitivity" (Climbie, Ishak, Pelska, probably Khan) must not trump child protection. Drug users and alcoholics are not fit parents, and should not be treated as such. When a child is being abused, they are the victim, not the abuser, no matter how touching their backstory.

Social work has been contaminated by the idea that they should not be judgemental of "other" lifestyles. That has to change.

filee777 Sun 06-Oct-13 11:19:08

I agree with the lack of judgment thing but I disagree with the 'alcoholics and druggies' thing, I know plenty of pot-heads who are great parents, or folk who can't get through an evening without a drink but always put their kids first.

friday16 Sun 06-Oct-13 13:31:15

I know plenty of pot-heads who are great parents, or folk who can't get through an evening without a drink but always put their kids first.

That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about methadone-maintained heroin addicts and a woman who was drinking two bottles of vodka a day.

filee777 Sun 06-Oct-13 14:31:37

I just thought your comment was far too general.

filee777 Sun 06-Oct-13 14:36:37

I think drugs and alcohol are factors, but certainly not the be all and end all, parents can be bad regardless and good parents can be good regardless.

horsetowater Mon 07-Oct-13 11:34:13

Friday the main reason they keep children with dysfunctional parents is because it saves money. There is also a libertarian aspect involved, giving people too many chances in the hope that the addiction is temporary. I agree with you that it's just not good enough.

In Hamzahs case, they sent a PCSO to visit, it was her second day. She kept going back and tring to make contact but this should have escalated much sooner. The neighbours had complained about nappies being thrown into the garden, he said he heard noises and believed there was another child in there. A PCSO should never have taken this on.

There was lots if history as well, she had her first baby young to a violent man, after she left him the oldest son took over. Eight children later, one every year, with pnd, she was dependent on those around her. Sadly the people and services she needed were not there.

horsetowater Mon 07-Oct-13 11:56:22

From the Yorkshire Post

"But by October 2009 after repeated failed appointments, Hutton’s GP surgery removed mother and child from the patients list - as is normal practice."

I have been banging on about this for years. Non-compliance is an indicator that there is a problem, not an excuse to get patients off your books. This woman was drinking a bottle of vodka every day.

MiaowTheCat Mon 07-Oct-13 12:33:01

Right - first things first can we stop bandying around "known to social services" as some kind of instantly-proven-to-be-a-shit-parent band of automatic guilt and stereotyping. My family have the label - because of a fucking malicious allegation ruled out within 24 hours but a label we have no right to redress and can never get rid of - as do lots and lots of families and it hangs over your head constantly. So quit with the offensive presumptions on that one OK?

I'm sick of the witchunting of parents and the "oooh but Baby P" if anyone dares object. I'm sick of a fucking ridiculous world where a conversation that goes "oh yeah we're having a bit of a crap time because of DD2's allergies but the health visitor's on the case and working with the dietician and GP to get it resolved" gets into a "because of your declaration we have to inform your health visitor you've told us this" - when the bloody "declaration" was relaying a conversation I'd had WITH the health visitor in the first place. (HV's comment when I told her they were going to be telling her this was an eye rolled "oh for god's sake" - I like my HV!) I'm sick of a world where I feel like I have to hold off getting anxiety treatment for months because more of my medical notes involve an account of the condition of the kids and my relationship with them than my own health. And woe betide you if you leave the kids with their father to pop down to the GPs - that one you could see the alarm bells and paperwork scrolling behind the GP's eyes (I think I did tell her - it's ok - the kids were seen at the children's centre this morning and by the HV this week so you can put the safeguarding form down - I just didn't fancy loading two kids into the car when their father's at home to watch them).

It just gets me, someone educated, well informed and rational very cross to be constantly viewed and treated as such - and I end up bloody parenting to cover my arse in advance. There's such suspicion and finger pointing already that I DO catch myself thinking daft things like when DD1 managed to pull one of those buggy books too tight and bop herself on the face with the bungee effect of it - that I won't go to baby group because then they'll document the bruises for future evidence - easier to just skip this week than face the interrogation. It's already fucking ridiculous and I'm sick of being treated like a criminal because I dared have a child.

The only distressing content is just how happily people would view everyone even MORE as suspects to be scrutinised 24-7... I hope you feel the same when your own kids are bringing up their kids too bloody scared to breathe for fear of being caught out by the system or having to go to A+E and risk triggering alarm bells or whatever.

passedgo Mon 07-Oct-13 13:36:46

Miaow I've been there but I always respect (hard though it is) the fact that they are doing their job, they don't want to waste time, and if you've got nothing to hide then they can't blame you. The more information you give them the better, it gives them a clearer picture. Hostility just makes them more suspicious.

There is a huge difference though between cases and they should differentiate with the kind of case it is. Amanda Hutton should have had serious intervention given her vulnerability in a violent relationship. And there are cases like yours where assessment is more complicated.

It doesn't help that they are very inflexible, so insist on x and x not happening instead of finding a way of helping you avoid it happening (like your childminding issue).

I remember one woman, single parent, new to the country, who desperately needed counselling, was offered it but couldn't go because she didn't have childcare.

ringaringarosy Mon 07-Oct-13 13:52:25

this would not work because it will only penalise the people who really look after their kids by making life difficult for them,the people who are really doing something bad will find a way to hide it.

The only time i have seen a hv or doctor is when i had my first baby,i have 4 now and another on the way,i see my mw but havnt seen doctors or hv as i dont feel the need to.

passedgo Mon 07-Oct-13 14:51:26

There was plenty of contact from HVs in Daniel Pelka's case but when you have this kind of thing, even the best HV won't help.

"On the 29th January 2008 a multi-agency domestic abuse Joint Screening meeting6 was convened which considered the previous incidents and Ms Luczak’s recent suicide attempt, resulting in the decision that an Initial Assessment be conducted by CLYP. There was no record of this decision in CLYP records or of an Initial Assessment being undertaken at this time."

ringaringarosy Mon 07-Oct-13 16:03:56

i think possibly there needs to be some kind of campaign about looking out for one another,a bit like at christmas when were told to look after old people in case theyre lonely or cold,we should be looking out for each other,who knows,if hamzahs mum had help early on when she was in an abusive relationship and an alcoholic,this might not of happened,of course there are always going to be people who are just fucked up and want to do evil things,but some of these cases must stem from other things.

passedgo Mon 07-Oct-13 17:06:27

In most of the serious case reviews there were plenty of people involved, even the neighbour, but if the people in power don't take it seriously enough to enforce entry to the property the preventive measures won't help.

I think you're right that in the early days there would have been an opportunity to help this woman but DV is so tricky and can be hidden by the perpetrator through threats etc.

One thing that would help is a strict no booze or drugs rule. If you're found to be dependent on drugs or drink, you can't look after children under a certain age.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now