Failures highlighted in care of vulnerable girl who died after overdosing on mother’s anti-depressants

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Chronicle & Echo, latest news, website logo

A SERIOUS case review into the death of a teenager revealed that care services failed to work together to safeguard the ‘very vulnerable’ girl.

Sarah-Louise McMillan, aged 17, from Highlands Drive, Daventry, overdosed on 50 of her mother’s anti-depressant tablets in June last year, only weeks after a similar incident in April.

Miss McMillan had spent most of her life growing up in care in Scotland, along with some of her six brothers and sisters, but chose to move to Daventry to live with her parents in early 2010. But children’s care services, who still had a legal duty to provide continued support to Miss McMillan, failed to provide her with a personal social worker, despite the young girl requesting the help of one, the report said.

Even after her first overdose, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service chose to provide her with a duty officer contact for support, rather than a dedicated care worker.

The review into her death, published yesterday by the Local Safeguarding Children Board Northamptonshire (LSCBN), concluded there were delays in the response to Miss McMillan’s needs, inappropriate plans and a lack of multi-agency response.

Care services in Northamptonshire were also unaware, until after Miss McMillan’s death, that she had taken a first overdose while in Scotland in 2009.

The report added that a review of the guidance was needed to ensure specific arrangements were put in place for care leavers moving between England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Janet Galley, independent chair of LSCBN, said it was not possible to tell whether the death of Miss McMillan, who was referred to as ‘Tammy’ in the report, was predictable or preventable.

She said: “The review makes it clear that better information sharing and joint working by all the agencies involved could have increased the chances of earlier identification of the risks Tammy posed to herself.”

She added that a set of recommendations for action were now either ‘in place or in hand’.