Whistleblower speaks out over Baby P failings

A MENTAL health professional at St Ann's hospital, where a paediatrician missed signs that Baby P may have had a broken back two days before he died, has spoken out about failings in her department. The woman, who did not want to be identified for fear of

A MENTAL health professional at St Ann's hospital, where a paediatrician missed signs that Baby P may have had a broken back two days before he died, has spoken out about failings in her department.

The woman, who did not want to be identified for fear of losing her job, works for the child and adolescent mental health service run by Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust.

Baby P, the 17-month old who died from horrific injuries at the hands of his mother, her lover and their lodger, was examined at the child development centre at St Ann's Hospital on August 1 2007. By this time he was probably suffering from fractured ribs and a broken back, paralysing him from the waist down. But Dr Sabah Alzayyat did not carry out a full examination because the baby was "miserable and cranky". He died two days later.

Although Dr Sabah is no longer working at St Ann's, the government ordered independent inspectors from the Health Commission to review procedures there.


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But on Monday, a source at the hospital said she had "grave concerns" about the review of her department. She claimed that of a team of 20 mental health care clinicians only three had been asked to give their views on the department.

"I think this makes a mockery of the investigation into child protection services in Haringey," she said. "Three people have been selected to talk to the inspectors and everyone else has been told to keep quiet."

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The trust has issued a statement saying the source's accusations were "groundless".

The child and adolescent mental health service comprises of 20 child therapists, psychologists, primary health workers and family therapists, who work closely with GPs and social workers to assess whether a child is displaying signs of behavioural problems. About a third of their case work involves making recommendations to Haringey social services on whether a child is at risk.

She alleges the trust has been trying to obtain foundation status for the past two years, which has led to financial cutbacks "to balance" the books; five members of her team have left in the past two years and they have not been replaced which has put pressure on remaining clinicians; and clinicians are under pressure to "push patients through" to meet a 13-week target of government waiting lists.

The source added: "In my view, patients are not getting the care that they should be getting because we are being pushed to see more and more people and the service has become like a conveyor belt." She added that in order to make a proper assessment about a child, clinicians needed to be able to spend time with individual patients.

She claimed: "We currently have one person on long-term sick leave from stress and another who was dismissed. Anyone who makes a complaint seems to be frowned upon."

A spokeswoman for The Health-care Commission said: "We are working with Ofsted and the Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary to undertake an urgent Joint Area Review of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in Haringey. We will be interviewing a number of people we consider it appropriate to speak to complete our review and we will be in a position to comment further once the review is completed.

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