Section 47 Advice

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Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:09 am

Section 47 Advice

Post by Kw86edw » Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:40 pm

Hi All,

I’m new here and looking for some advice please. We have 3 children ages 8, 7 and 4. Our youngest Daughter has complex medical issues and has been in and out of a Children’s Hospital for most of her life. She was initially taken into hospital at 4 months old failing to thrive. They then discovered she had an unsafe swallow and started to tube feed her. She had a gastrostomy tube out into her tummy at 1 and then a tube into her intestines at 18 months old. She was fed that way until October last year.

She was admitted because her tube came out and because of complications she started having blood sugar issues. She was discharged two weeks later with no support for the blood sugar issues and so was readmitted fairly soon afterwards. They couldn’t figure out what was happening 6 weeks later and we were still stuck in hospital. A consultant and gastroenterologist then decided that she didn’t need the tubes at all and started a drastic weaning program that made her really ill and she dropped a significant amount of weight. During this time we were really concerned and asked for a second opinion from another hospital which they blocked at every turn. We then threatened to self discharge her and take her to another hospital. Safeguarding were informed as is the standard process. The safeguarding team expressed no concern about us as parents and we have proof of this they did however ask us not to be hasty about discharge and to try and work out a plan with the medical team which we did we stayed in the hospital for another week while they sorted out a discharge plan and she was formally discharged following a discharge meeting on the 3rd if October. Again no concerns regarding our parenting were raised by anyone involved in her care. At this point we had been inpatient for 4 months! I lived at the hospital with her and my husband and mum were caring for our other children at home. She was never alone and I attended to all her care while she was there.

As part of the discharge plan we then had to present to A&E every 48 hours for two weeks to get her checked over and weighed. We attended every single appointment sometimes there for over 3 hours! Again no concerns were raised about us.

We had a routine outpatient appointment around a month later however on the day of the appointment my son was ill and we could not attend. I called in the morning to let them know and they said they’d rearrange. The appointment they arranged however was at 4.20. My husband works nights so I have to collect the older children from school at 3:20. We also live about an hours drive from the hospital in good traffic so there was no way I could collect the children from school and get there in time for the appointment. I called a few days in advance to ask for an earlier or later appointment and got told by the consultant that she would call social services if we did not attend. We negotiated another appointment in December and attended to find that she had made a referral because we didn’t attend an appointment. We were obviously upset and angry but have nothing to hide so didn’t worry too much.

We have since discovered that she has raised a Section 47 because of us blocking medical staff placing Our daughter at risk! She has also added that during our admission our daughter asked for food and I refused to give it to her. Which is partially true but completely out of context. Our daughter is Lactose, Soya and Gluten intolerant so when she asked me for toast she could not have the bread the hospital had not their butter! She also couldn’t have the yoghurt that the nurse gave to her and I had to take away! What they didn’t say is that I had purchased yoghurt that she could have and replaced it with that one instead.

We have to be strict with her diet because it gives her chronic diarrhoea and causes weight loss otherwise. I’m sure if she’d had a more violent reaction to these things it would be different!!! Also the nurses would wake her up to play at midnight etc so I asked them to stop it’s ok for children that are admitted short term but after 4 months she was more than a little grumpy being woken up all the time.

She also came to harm whilst in their care on a number of occasions that they couldn’t explain. One instance she was left with the blood sugar needles in her bed and physically harmed herself. We took photos as proof but they have no record it ever happened. There was also an incident when a nurse took her for half an hour so I could get some lunch when I came back she was in the cot alone and had a huge bruise on her head they couldn’t explain this either!

We got to the point where we took photos and recorded everything in a diary and I’m so glad we did!

Social services have been out to visit us twice in two consecutive days as there was so much to go through with her medical history. They’ve spoken to us and our daughter, they also spoke to our older daughter but didn’t want to speak to our son. They’ve asked a million questions although they didn’t want to look around the house which I thought they would. She was actually really lovely and even sat playing board games with us which my husband believes to have been a test!

My main questions are where do we stand now? Obviously we can prove everything that the hospital are saying is lies. We have a formal complaint going on for a number of reasons but the main one is medical negligence. Social services are telling us a Section 47 is very serious and has to be handled by a manager. So obviously we are worried and waiting for the report she said would take 2 weeks.

I can’t sleep and am having serious anxiety issues I’m waking in the middle of the night panicking that they have taken our children. We’re not perfect I don’t think any family is but we love each other unconditionally and have a good home life. This whiole thing is terrifying for us all even the two older children are really frightened they will have to go live somewhere else!!!

If they do try and take the children will we get warnings? Or can they just do it? I’m not sure how long we can live with this fear. The social worker did tell us that if she had anything to tell us she would and she didn’t but I can’t stop worrying!!!!

Sorry for the long post any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:09 am

Re: Section 47 Advice

Post by Kw86edw » Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:43 pm

I should also add that my daughter was discharged on the 3rd October 2017 the referral was made 30/11/2017 so nearly 2 months later!

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Section 47 Advice

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:25 pm

Dear kw86edw

Welcome to the Parents’ Board and thanks for your post. I am sorry that we have not been able to respond to your query before now.

I am also sorry to hear about the difficulties your family is experiencing which must be very stressful and difficult for you all.

You explain that your daughter’s hospital consultant made a referral to children’s services due to concerns about an alleged missed hospital appointment, your cooperation with medical staff and feeding/management of your daughter’s diet. The referral suggested that your daughter could be at risk of serious harm due to these concerns.

At the same time, you also have concerns about how hospital staff cared for your daughter which you detail and you have gathered photographic evidence and kept a thorough record. You are in the process of making a complaint against the hospital and addressing a concern about medical negligence.

It sounds as if the relationship between your family and the hospital is very poor at the moment, with concerns on both sides. There are obvious differences of opinion between you about whether certain incidents have happened and the contexts in which they happened. No matter what the outcome of children's services' involvement is you will probably need to continuing working with medical staff because of your daughter's needs so it will be important to continue to do so.

Family Rights Group can only advise on the children’s services aspects of your situation in terms of processes and procedures. You may be in touch with a patients’ advice group such as Patients Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) or a specialist solicitor in relation to the other matters?

Children’s Services are undertaking child protection enquiries which are also sometimes known as a Section 47 investigation as that is the section of the Children’s Act which places a duty on children’s services to investigate where they have information that a child may be at risk of significant harm.

As you are aware, this is a formal process and involves all of the agencies working with a family as well as the family themselves. Decisions are not made by individuals alone and a social worker would always consult with their manager in this situation and with regards to any child protection assessment. It is really important that you continue to cooperate fully with the assessment that the social worker is undertaking and with the child protection process.

You have allowed the social workers to visit you and your children at home and to speak with the children. I am not sure why they didn’t want to speak to your son as the needs of all the children should be assessed as part of a child protection investigation even though there may not be specific concerns about all of the children. Did the social worker explain why they did not want to talk to him?

I would advise you not to dismiss all that the hospital says as lies as they would not have taken the decision to refer lightly and I am sure that they want what is best for your daughter too. Where an agency has concerns they do need to pass them on to children’s services for a social worker to do a full assessment. The assessment should be focused on your daughter’s needs, involve you and your children, be transparent and open to challenge and identify your family’s strengths as well as any difficulties.

I would also suggest that you ask the social worker to be really clear with you about what the concerns are; are they worried that that you are exaggerating your daughter’s symptoms or neglecting her physical needs or is it about emotional needs?

Assessments should usually be completed within 45 working days except in very complex cases. You can ask the referrer (in this case the hospital) why there was a delay from the date of your daughter’s discharge to the referral being made. It may be that professional advice was being sought about how to proceed. If you have not heard back from the social worker in the two weeks’ timescale she spoke about do give her a call to get an update. Social workers do know how stressful child protection investigations can be for all concerned and should try to minimise your distress as far as possible.

You are clearly very worried about what might happen. This is understandable. What happens next will depend on the outcome of the assessment. All of these processes are explained fully in our child protection advice sheet.

If the assessment finds that there is no risk of harm then you may still be offered support/services to assist your family. If the outcome is that your child/ren suffered serious harm but it is not continuing there may be a meeting or plan put in place to monitor the child/ren’s safety and welfare. A child protection conference will be held promptly if children’s services decide that your child is or is likely to be, suffering significant harm.

You are very frightened that your children may be removed from your care. The law is very clear that wherever possible children should be cared for by their parents or within their extended family.

Social workers cannot remove a child from your care unless:

You or another person with parental responsibility consents to this
A court makes a care or emergency protection order which allows them to remove your child.

The police do have the power to remove a child without a care order, in an extremely serious situation – for up to 72 hours.

This is all explained in the advice sheet mentioned above so please do have a read of it as it spells out what children’s services can do and what you as a parent can do when there are child protection concerns. Also have a look at our advocacy for families advice sheet.

In most situations apart from emergencies, parents will be fully informed if children’s services are having a legal planning meeting or intending to apply to court for a court order.

I do know how stressful all of this is for you, as for any parent, and hope that you get an update very soon from the social worker. In the meantime, continue to work with all the agencies and professionals involved and seek advice as and when you need it.

You are welcome to post again if you have a new query or your situation changes.

Best wishes


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